Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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."

Kevin Russ / Moment / Getty Images

By Kang-Chun Cheng

Modoc County lies in the far northeast corner of California, and most of its 10,000 residents rely on cattle herding, logging, or government jobs for employment. Rodeos and 4-H programs fill most families' calendars; massive belt buckles, blue jeans, and cowboy hats are common attire. Modoc's niche brand of American individualism stems from a free-spirited cowboy culture that imbues the local ranching conflict with wild horses.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Christian Aslund / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Anne-Sophie Brändlin

COVID-19 and climate change have been two of the most pressing issues in 2020.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo

By Victoria Masterson

Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brett Wilkins

Despite acknowledging that the move would lead to an increase in the 500 million to one billion birds that die each year in the United States due to human activity, the Trump administration on Friday published a proposed industry-friendly relaxation of a century-old treaty that protects more than 1,000 avian species.

Read More Show Less
U.S. returns create about 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. manonallard / Getty Images

Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.

Read More Show Less