Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

GMO Apples Arriving on U.S. Shelves for First Time

GMO
GMO Apples Arriving on U.S. Shelves for First Time
The Arctic Fuji Apple. Okanagan Specialty Fruits

The first commercial harvest of Arctic apples—genetically modified (GMO) apples that don't brown when exposed to air—will arrive in 400 Midwestern grocery stores this month, Bloomberg reported.

The product will be sold as 10-ounce bags of sliced Golden Delicious apples. The bags will not have a clear label saying it is a GMO product. Rather, a customer will only know that the fruit is genetically modified by scanning the bag's QR code with a smartphone, a feature that opponents have shunned.


"Not everyone has a smartphone, and even if you have one, are you going to check every item with it?" Bill Freese, a science-policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, told Nature.

Americans are generally wary of GMOs and recent polls show that the vast majority (89 percent) favor mandatory labels on GMO foods or products containing such ingredients.

The biotech apple, owned by British Columbia-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits, first stirred up controversy back in February 2015 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture deemed both the Arctic Golden Delicious and Arctic Granny varieties safe for human consumption. It was the first time the federal agency approved an aesthetically-improved genetically engineered food.

To prevent the crop from browning, the company silenced an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) that drives oxidation in apples. The benefit of these apples, the company says, is that it cuts down food waste—about 40 percent of apples are currently wasted, with much of that waste from superficial bruising and browning.

"The purpose of Arctic apples is definitely to promote healthy eating, boost apple consumption and reduce food waste, no matter what your age, income or any other factor," Okanagan president Neal Carter told Bloomberg.

Other small biotech firms are eagerly watching consumer reaction to Arctic apples, Nature reported.

"If the apple sells, it will pave the way for others," explained Yinong Yang, a Pennsylvania State University plant pathologist who created a mushroom that resists browning by using the genome-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. He wants to license his mushroom to commercial growers.

Carter told Nature that he is optimistic that people will buy his apples.

"We rarely get e-mails saying we are Satan anymore," he said. "Now we have people asking where they can buy the apples."

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch