First GMO apple slices to go on sale in Midwest
by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
A small amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland, B.C., will be in 10 stores this February and March, said Neal Carter, the company's founder and president. He would not identify the retailers, saying that that would be up to them.
He further went on to say that they are very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows, and that it is a great product and the eating quality is excellent.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits reduced the enzyme polyphenol oxidase to prevent browning when apples are sliced, bitten or bruised. The apples match the industry norm of not browning for three weeks after slicing but without using flavor-altering, chemical additives that the rest of the fresh-sliced apple industry uses.
Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji varieties have been approved by the USDA and Canada. An Arctic Gala could be approved in 2018. Only Goldens and Granny Smiths have been planted long enough to produce fruit in commercial quantities by next fall.
A QR computer scan code on the packaging enables consumers to get information, including that the apple slices are genetically modified, but nothing directly on the packing identifies it. Okanagan Specialty Fruits will adhere to the new genetically engineered foods labeling act but it's not clear what that requires, said the company's founder.
He went on to say that as they were selling it under the Arctic brand and that they have had a lot of press and attention, he would thus assume most people will know what it is.
It has been claimed, however, that the packages may not even feature the Arctic logo at all, so it is a case of buyer beware.
While supportive of the science, the Washington apple industry opposed approval of GMO apples because it believes negative public perception could damage apple sales. While expressing concerns about market disruption before USDA approval, the U.S. Apple Association is now neutral and stresses that all apples are safe, healthy and nutritious.
Regardless of the statement by the industry we have to remember that the long term health impacts of eating these apples are unknown in same way as with any GMO products.
Below is a link to a factsheet on GMO apples by Friends of the Earth