Arctic Apple nothing to fear

Predictably, no sooner than Okanagan Specialty Fruits' Arctic Apple was approved for sale in the United States last week, howls of protest began to rise up.

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association is opposed because it doesn't want Canadian approval to follow.

Not that it's against the genetically modified apple for the same reasons the Highway 97 overpass flag wavers are. The BCFGA is against the Arctic Apple purely for economic reasons; those being that public perception of an Okanagan-developed GMO apple could negatively affect the entire Okanagan tree fruit industry.

That's a fair concern. Unlike the unfounded fears of the anti-GMO activists, consumers voting with their wallets is a possibility worth watching as the U.S. introduction unfolds. Of course, if the Arctic Apple is a raging hit, watch for the BCFGA to rush to the party for its share of the windfall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the non-browning Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples pose no threat and are safe to eat. And why wouldn't they be? All OSF has done is turn off the gene that causes oxidation. No strange and wonderful strands of DNA have been added.

It is not, as the alarmists would call it, a Franken-food.

“All we’ve done is reduce the expression of a single enzyme; there are no novel proteins in Arctic fruit, and their nutrition and composition is equivalent to their conventional counterparts,” says OSF's Neal Carter.

The apples have been grown in field trials for over a decade, and, according to the USDA’s risk assessment documents, they are just as safe and healthful as any other apple.

There is not a single study that has shown any negative human effect from consumption of genetically modified foods. And we have been doing so for decades.

It will take a few years before the apples reach American consumers in any sizeable quantity, but the true test of their success or failure will be whether people buy them – not because of what they think they might be, but because of what they taste like.

— News Director Jon Manchester



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