Wendy’s, one of the nation’s top restaurant chains, has confirmed the company does not plan to sell or use the Arctic apple. In the wake of widespread criticism of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) recent approval of the first genetically engineered apple, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently deemed the Arctic apple, owned by synthetic biology company Intrexon, safe for consumption, relying only on company data through a voluntary safety consultation. Like other genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Arctic apple will not be required to be labeled as genetically engineered.
Wendy’s, which sells apple slices in its kids’ meals, confirmed in April via email to Friends of the Earth that it has no plans to sell Arctic apples. McDonald’s and Gerber have also stated that they have no plans to source or sell this genetically engineered apple.
“Wendy’s is wisely listening to its customers by joining other major food companies and apple growers in rejecting this unnecessary and risky genetically engineered apple,” said Lisa Archer, food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no demand for this new GMO.”
Despite growing public demands for transparency and GMO labeling, large chemical and food companies continue to push for a Senate bill that correlates to to HR 1599, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. This bill, recently approved in the House of Representatives, would preempt state and local authority to label and regulate genetically engineered food, allow food companies to make false "natural" claims about foods containing GMOs and codify the failed system of voluntary labeling of GMOs. A Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on GMO regulation has been scheduled for Oct. 21.
Consumer outcry over the USDA and FDA’s approval led 10 environmental and consumer organizations to ask Burger King, Wendy’s Company, Subway and Dunkin’ Brands to refrain from selling the Arctic apple, which may pose numerous environmental, health and economic risks. Friends of the Earth, CREDO, Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, Green America and Organic Consumers Association have gathered more than 266,000 petition signatures urging major fast food restaurants and food companies to not source GMO apples.
Major apple growing associations, including USApple and the Northwest Horticultural Council (representing Washington apple growers, who grow more than 60 percent of U.S. apples), have also opposed the GMO apple, some voicing concerns that potential cross-contamination may cause important export markets such as Europe and China to reject U.S. grown apples or require costly testing and certifications from farmers and exporter companies.
The GMO Arctic apple is genetically engineered via a new, virtually untested experimental technique called RNA interference—or RNAi—that many scientists are concerned may have negative, unintended impacts on human health and the environment. This technique was used to silence genes related to the production of enzymes that cause apples to brown when cut, a natural indicator of freshness. However, browning in apples can be prevented using lemon juice or other natural sources of vitamin C, making the genetically engineered apple unnecessary. In addition, a new certified organic, non-GMO, non-browning apple, the Opal apple, developed using traditional cross-breeding, is currently available at leading grocery retailers.
Scientists believe that the natural browning enzyme in apples may help to fight diseases and pests, meaning that farmers may have to increase their pesticide use on these new GMO apples. Conventional, non-GMO apples already carry some of the highest levels of toxic pesticide residues, many of them linked to hormone disruption, reproductive harm and ADHD. Scientists also worry that while Okanagan's RNAi process aims to silence four of the apple’s genes, the process may be dangerously imprecise: targeted gene sequences are similar to other closely related genes, so the silencing process could unintentionally impact genes that affect other functions in the plant.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, has also announced plans to introduce genetically engineered peaches, cherries and pears in the near future.
Another new GMO is also facing increasing market rejection. Due to a campaign by Friends of the Earth and allies, more than 60 retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Kroger, representing more than 9,000 grocery stores across the country, have made commitments to not sell AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage GMO salmon, currently pending approval by the FDA.
“Wendy’s commitment further demonstrates the growing market rejection of new GMOs in the pipeline for approval, such as GMO salmon,” said Patty Lovera, associate director of Food & Water Watch.
"Consumers have spoken and Wendy's has listened," said Katherine Paul, associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. "What health-conscious consumers want are wholesome, pesticide-free, nutrient-dense apples--not cosmetically appealing apples created using a risky and untested technology and unleashed into the market without a label."
“Wendy’s has done the right thing by committing to not sell genetically engineered apples. It is risky to allow these products to enter the food supply when impacts of the basic technology are so poorly understood,” said Rebecca Spector, west coast director at Center for Food Safety. “But this one step isn’t enough. All American consumers have the right to know how their food is produced and to ensure that right, we need proper labeling on all GE products.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus?
- How to Stop Touching Your Face to Minimize Spread of Coronavirus ... ›
- Vodka Won't Protect You From Coronavirus, and 4 Other Things to ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
- 41% of UK Species Have Declined Since 1970, Major Report Finds ... ›
- One in Eight Bird Species Threatened With Extinction, Study Finds ... ›
- Pesticides to Blame for UK's Declining Turtle Dove Population ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
Life-sized, ultra-realistic robotic dolphins could help end animal captivity by replacing living creatures in aquariums and theme parks.
- Keeping Large Mammals Captive Damages Their Brains - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Combine AI With Biology to Create Xenobots, the World's ... ›
- Singapore Uses 'Scary' Robot Dog to Enforce Social Distancing ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.