The first GMO non-browning apples will go on sale in the US next month

Arctic Apples

The first genetically modified apples will go on sale in the US next month, according to agricultural site Capital Press. The fruit, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits and sold under the brand name Arctic Apples, were approved by the USDA in 2015 with a first harvest collected last fall. The apples have been modified to brown less quickly than ordinary fruit, and will be sold pre-sliced in “grab-and-go” pouches.

The apples have been altered by shutting down the genes responsible for producing an enzyme known as polyphenol oxidase or PPO. When an apple is sliced or bruised, PPO reacts with chemicals in the fruit (polyphenolics), producing the browning effect we’re used to seeing. The enzyme is found in a number of plants, and is an evolutionary defense mechanism used to deter herbivorous insects. In apples, though, it’s only produced in small amounts.

By suppressing the production of PPO, Arctic Apples age and brown at a slower rate — taking three weeks to fully oxidize. Okanagan Specialty Fruits says this means that their pre-sliced apples can be sold cheaper than non-GMO varieties, as 35 percent of the cost of pre-sliced fruit comes from applying a flavor-altering, antioxidant treatment.

Only 500, 40-pound boxes of the fruit will be sent to 10 unnamed retailers in the Midwest, says Okanagan. The fruit will not be explicitly identified as genetically modified, although this information can be found if the customer scans a QR computer code on the packaging. “We are selling it under the Arctic brand and we’ve had a lot of press and attention, so I assume most people will know what it,” Okanagan’s founder and president Neal Carter told Capital Press. A number of apple types will be sold under Arctic Apples brand in future, including Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji.

Distribution is currently limited by production, with Okanagan currently managing some 85,000 trees planted in Washington state. The company plans to increase that to more than 300,000 this spring though, with half a million trees being budded for planting in 2018. The fall crop in 2017 is expected to produce 6,000 more boxes of the fruit for the Midwest region. “We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows,” said Cater. “It’s a great product and the eating quality is excellent.”

Comments

Sounds cool! Do they taste any different from the normal varieties, though?

NO, it isn’t cool. Hope you’re note the same person posting positive comments about this appalling junk food development on Engadget? Again, it is NOT cool:

1. Wasteful packaging to wrap what is…
2. Scientifically proven to have ZERO nutritional value due to the fact that vitamin and other content of fruit and vegatables degrades within hours of picking. (IE, far better to go to a farmer’s market or grow in your back garden or porch if you live on a 1km high tower in Taipei.)
3. Will on a size ratio format cost a lot more than a fresh apple. Evidence? Here in the already part dystopian UK (wait for it!) you can buy ready boiled eggs, ready sliced avacado etc, all wrapped in animal killing plastic wrap (that is toxic to humans too), that you then have to fight to remove.

All of this is just to make money, when nature can in fact deliver all we need for less cost to us and the environment.

The reason our food changes colour and/or smells is to warn us that it is unsafe and/or of diminishing nutritional value.

Just more American corporations wrecking what nature spent millennia perfecting for our consumption. See what Nestle did to our chocolate! It tastes awful now.

I think most of the complaints you’ve listed apply to most produce bought in grocery stores, not just these apples. If you are already a person who shops at a grocery store for your produce then I don’t see anything wrong with purchasing these apples.

lets make this argument simple…
cigarets are horrible products. they aren’t even a nessesity like food is. and they have crazy taxes on them. yet some people spend a weeks worth of "normal" groceries money on them.

also whining in a comment section about a article for geneticly moded food is close to going to a ps4 forums and complaining while you only own a xbox.

if you don’t like genetic radio active non-nutritional apples then don’t consume the product and shut up

I think kids are more likely to eat the apple in their lunch box if it comes in this form than as a whole apple.

My kid only wants them whole

With any product, consumer demand will drive the market. This is a highly valuable product for a company like McDonald’s that does prepackaged sliced apples. It will allow them to hold on to inventory longer before the apples spoil. Parents may also like this option as a kid’s lunchbox could have sliced apples that still look fresh hours later.

I think there’s a market for these apples that aren’t presliced in the grocery store. Calm down.

Hm. Not sure about that. GMO apples what can go wrong?

GMO apples what can go wrong?

Not much…as long as we know which genes get altered and as long as the effect is well tested, to assure no side-effects, we should be fine.

Yeah… Because we know these things for sure 100%.

Well nothing in life is 100%, but how is this different from any over the counter medicine? You trust the system to make sure all those pills are tested and that taking tylenol won’t give you poisoning (for example), so we (hopefully) can trust the system with GMOs as well.

I have nothing against GMOs – as long as there are regulations and proper testing there’s nothing inherently dangerous about them. (Most of our food is already genetically modified anyway, just via different, slower methods.) With that said, modifying apples to reduce the browning effect is, as far as I’m concerned, a total waste of everybody’s time and money. I know people here are a little bit obsessed over the whole thing (don’t ask me why), but is this an actual issue that needs to be addressed? 90% of the time you just buy an apple and eat it, and the few times you might slice it and not finish, well shit, just put it in a container, into the fridge and eat it the next day – yeah it’ll be a bit brown but it’s not like it’ll spoil and it’ll be just as tasty.

All I’m saying is, get your priorities straight people!

I think less "useful" GM methods like anti-browning serve as invaluable test cases for more far-reaching results. This sounds like a relatively simple gene modification compared to decreasing nutrient-needs and increasing yield, or gene-based pest repelling. This is just a step on the way, and valuable, even if the result so far is just cosmetic.

This is cool and all but governments really should require companies to disclose on their packaging that the relevant product has been genetically modified. But, so long as most people do not care…

Congress did pass a sweeping GMO labeling law in July of 2016 that required mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Its just not in effect yet, but its coming.

GMO’s are well studied and demonstrate no harm so why should we put on a label that implies theres something wrong with it?

It would be like prominantly placing 19g of sugar on an Apple bag. It’s a disingenuous way to scare people away.

It would be like prominantly placing 19g of sugar on an Apple bag. It’s a disingenuous way to scare people away.

Not at all actually – saying it has been modified and saying how and for what reason has just as many pros (wont go bad as quickly) as it has cons (it’s "different") but the fact of the matter is that people need to make an informed decision as to what we put in our bodies. Personally, I would buy theses apple (not pre-sliced though, that’s silly) but you cannot demand a person to pay for a product without actually knowing what it is. Every other single thing we purchase that is "well studied" (medication, electronics, vehicles, tobacco, alcohol, etc.) comes with labels and has provided the opportunity to find out more about it. How can we not demand the same thing from what we ingest. Every other packaged food does – why not this? Labels don’t scare people from eating Lucky Charms…why would this be different?

Because organic marketing is based almost wholey on the idea that GMO’s are an existential threat to your health.

We do not typically label things unless they’re a possible negative to someone’s health. This is especially true of food labels.

I think that’s referring to pesticides (re: organic) and local goods than the ingredients or modifications.

Your initial statement is not at all accurate and is reaching, however, to use your logic, not disclosing that food has been modified implies that there is something wrong with the process. Therefore hiding it is a disingenuous way to take choice away from consumers.

The problem with labeling is many people just assume something has to be wrong with it if the label is required. On top of that you have people running around marketing "GMO-Free" products further reinforcing the belief that if it is labeled it must be bad.

So make an effective labeling system and things will be fine. Labels aren’t bad – misinformation is. Other than produce, labels are applied to every single thing we eat – and yet labels haven’t made people only eat produce and be mistrusting of everything else. People should be able to know if the apple has been modified to extend it’s life or for genetic pesticides, for instance. That’s an informed decision, and that is never bad.

Humanity will be remembered for failing because they took on the easy problems instead of the hard ones.

Making food last longer is not an easy problem.

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