Hard Science

USDA Approves Sale of Non-Browning GMO Apples

Would you buy and eat them?

Kathleen RileyJanuary 20th 2017

The controversial debate surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been longstanding for years. Even with the negative preconceptions, the USDA has previously cleared genetically modified produce for release on store shelves. Soon, we will see apples added to the list.

These golden delicious apples are sliced and pre-packaged under the brand Arctic Apples, a subsidiary of Okanagan Specialty Foods. While normal apples begin to brown when sliced, these do not. They actually don’t oxidize for three weeks after being bruised, cut, or bitten into.

The company achieved this by suppressing the genes that produce an enzyme found in apples called polyphenol oxidase (PPO), which is responsible for the browning. This move saves Okanagan quite a bit in production costs, considering that 35 percent of the cost with pre-sliced fruit goes towards applying a chemical treatment before distribution.

Sources estimate there will be approximately 500 40-pound cases of these apples on 10 store shelves in the Midwest by February and March. Stores will have the choice of whether or not to label them as GMO produce.

GMOs have been proven to be extremely helpful – check out Norman Borlaug, the man who researched high-yielding, disease-resistant crops during the 20th century. His work gave rise to the Green Revolution, and he was able to save hundreds of millions of lives. It wouldn’t be difficult to assume that modern day GMOs could have a similar impact.

If the test run goes well enough, Arctic hopes to expand its orchards, currently in British Columbia and Washington state, up to 2,800 acres by 2021.

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