Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

This GMO Apple Won't Brown. Will That Sour The Fruit's Image?

Posted by on Jan. 8, 2014 at 9:47 PM
  • 16 Replies

This GMO Apple Won't Brown. Will That Sour The Fruit's Image?

Soon after being sliced, a conventional Granny Smith apple (left) starts to brown, while a newly developed GM Granny Smith stays fresher looking.

Soon after being sliced, a conventional Granny Smith apple (left) starts to brown, while a newly developed GM Granny Smith stays fresher looking.

Courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.

If you (or your children) turn up your nose at brown apple slices, would you prefer fresh-looking ones that have been genetically engineered?

Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, in British Columbia, Canada, certainly hopes so. His company has created the new, non-browning, "Arctic" apples, and he's hoping for big orders from despairing parents and food service companies alike. Food service companies, he says, would no longer have to treat their sliced apples with antioxidant chemicals like calcium ascorbate to keep them looking fresh.

The cost savings "can be huge," he says. "Right now, to make fresh-cut apple slices and put them in the bag, 35 or 40 percent of the cost is the antioxident treatment. So you could make a fresh-cut apple slice 30 percent cheaper."

The new apples are waiting for approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But they face opposition — including from apple producers who worry that this new product will taint the apple's wholesome, all-natural image.

"Our concern is marketing," says Christian Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, which represents apple growers in the major apple-producing areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Schlect sees a risk that consumers who are viscerally opposed to genetic engineering will avoid apples entirely, and the industry will have to spend precious time and money keeping GMO apples separate from their conventional cousins.

The non-browning trait was created by inserting extra copies of genes that the apple already possessed. These genes normally create an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase, which is responsible for the chemical reaction that causes browning.

Yet when extra copies of the gene are added, the apple reacts by shutting down all of them, stopping production of the enzyme and preventing the browning reaction. (Like any apple, these apples eventually will go brown from normal rotting. It's the immediate "enzymatic browning" that's blocked.)

Okanagan Specialty Fruits licensed this technique from the Australian research institute where it was first discovered.

At the moment, there are non-browning versions of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has allowed Okanagan Specialty Fruits to produce them in test plots covering a few acres in the states of New York and Washington. Carter says his company now is working to put the trait in Fuji and Gala apples, too.

The USDA has studied the apple and released a preliminary conclusion that Arctic apples are pretty much as harmless as conventional ones. That assessment is now open for public comment, and thousands of people have taken advantage of the opportunity — most of them fiercely opposed to it.

Even if the USDA approved the apples within a few months, as Carter hopes, it would take several years before commercial quantities of non-browning apples could show up in grocery stores.

Okanagan Specialty Fruits does not plan to grow large quantities of apples itself. It will license its variety to commercial growers, charging them a one-time fee of $1,500 per acre of trees. Carter says this is comparable to the license fees that growers currently pay for the right to produce patented varieties such as Gala or Fuji.

Carter is convinced that most consumers will be curious to try the apple. The company conducted focus groups in four U.S. cities, from San Francisco to Raleigh, N.C. The company showed consumers the apple, explained that it was genetically engineered, and asked them, "Would you buy it?"

"Typically, it's about 80-20," says Carter. "80 percent say, 'Fantastic, bring it on.' And 20 percent say, 'Hmm. I don't think I like genetic engineering.' But they all eat it. Even if they were a nay-sayer that was never going to eat any GM fruit, they will eat a slice. It's not like we have to ask them to eat a slice. They will ask if they can eat a slice."

Carter thinks it may be more difficult convincing grocery stores to stock the new apple. Even if only a minority of their customers are viscerally opposed to it, grocery stores are risk-averse, and don't want to drive away any business at all.

National Woman's Party


by on Jan. 8, 2014 at 9:47 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:07 PM
The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:18 PM

IDK....I'm on the fence.

I have a real problem with GMO food that includes the Round Up Ready gene, that is crossed with other species of animals/plants, or is engineered to not self-reproduce efficiently so that farmers cannot save seeds....

But if its tweaking what is already in the fruit? IDK...I would have to see how this is different than selective breeding that is done over generations of plants...things that make tomatoes beautifully red but tasteless at the same time and that gave us the delicious honey crisp apple. If this is just a short cut on that process, then I might give it a little more slack. 

I think it is wrong and confusing to people to lump all these "techniques" under the blanket description of GMO. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?


National Woman's Party


Mrs.Pedro
by Bronze Member on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:20 PM
2 moms liked this
I just think it is pointless... Instead of buying gmo apples because your kids don't like brown apples, why not teach them that they are still good? And instead of buying pre-sliced apples, why not slice your own then add lemon juice to keep it from browning too much? The only upside I see is the cost for companies making the pre-sliced bags and such... And the idea that hopefully more people would eat apples if they're already pre-sliced and not browning(convenience is important in our society of people on the go and those who are lazy). Either way I do NOT think that regular apples should be done away with in favor of GMO apples... There should always be a choice and we should be able to trust(ALL) these companies to be honest about their products.
TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:22 PM
I am 100% against the roundup seeds and also the ones unable to reproduce. I see so many problems with those. It just makes me nervous to mess with nature.

Quoting NWP:

IDK....I'm on the fence.

I have a real problem with GMO food that includes the Round Up Ready gene, that is crossed with other species of animals/plants, or is engineered to not self-reproduce efficiently so that farmers cannot save seeds....

But if its tweaking what is already in the fruit? IDK...I would have to see how this is different than selective breeding that is done over generations of plants...things that make tomatoes beautifully red but tasteless at the same time and that gave us the delicious honey crisp apple. If this is just a short cut on that process, then I might give it a little more slack. 

I think it is wrong and confusing to people to lump all these "techniques" under the blanket description of GMO. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?


NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:24 PM

I absolutely agree with this. 

Even selective breeding plants presents its own problem....The selective breeding over generations that removed the gene that caused the cracked green shoulders on tomatoes because it was ugly also removed all the flavor from them. That is why heirlooms taste sooooooo much better....but at least I know the beautiful bland grocery store tomatoes won't kill me.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I am 100% against the roundup seeds and also the ones unable to reproduce. I see so many problems with those. It just makes me nervous to mess with nature.

Quoting NWP:

IDK....I'm on the fence.

I have a real problem with GMO food that includes the Round Up Ready gene, that is crossed with other species of animals/plants, or is engineered to not self-reproduce efficiently so that farmers cannot save seeds....

But if its tweaking what is already in the fruit? IDK...I would have to see how this is different than selective breeding that is done over generations of plants...things that make tomatoes beautifully red but tasteless at the same time and that gave us the delicious honey crisp apple. If this is just a short cut on that process, then I might give it a little more slack. 

I think it is wrong and confusing to people to lump all these "techniques" under the blanket description of GMO. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?



National Woman's Party


TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:32 PM
1 mom liked this
I bought some tomatoes the other day fromWal-Mart . And as a rule I never buy produce from Walmart. They were terrible. No taste and just terrible. I bought some more from Meijer, vine ripe tomatoes, and they were so good. Sometimes we try to make things better and some things just need to be left alone.

Quoting NWP:

I absolutely agree with this. 

Even selective breeding plants presents its own problem....The selective breeding over generations that removed the gene that caused the cracked green shoulders on tomatoes because it was ugly also removed all the flavor from them. That is why heirlooms taste sooooooo much better....but at least I know the beautiful bland grocery store tomatoes won't kill me.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I am 100% against the roundup seeds and also the ones unable to reproduce. I see so many problems with those. It just makes me nervous to mess with nature.



Quoting NWP:

IDK....I'm on the fence.

I have a real problem with GMO food that includes the Round Up Ready gene, that is crossed with other species of animals/plants, or is engineered to not self-reproduce efficiently so that farmers cannot save seeds....

But if its tweaking what is already in the fruit? IDK...I would have to see how this is different than selective breeding that is done over generations of plants...things that make tomatoes beautifully red but tasteless at the same time and that gave us the delicious honey crisp apple. If this is just a short cut on that process, then I might give it a little more slack. 

I think it is wrong and confusing to people to lump all these "techniques" under the blanket description of GMO. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?



NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:34 PM

I agree! But then there is also the Honey Crisp...and sweet and delicious example of selective breeding perfection.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I bought some tomatoes the other day fromWal-Mart . And as a rule I never buy produce from Walmart. They were terrible. No taste and just terrible. I bought some more from Meijer, vine ripe tomatoes, and they were so good. Sometimes we try to make things better and some things just need to be left alone.

Quoting NWP:

I absolutely agree with this. 

Even selective breeding plants presents its own problem....The selective breeding over generations that removed the gene that caused the cracked green shoulders on tomatoes because it was ugly also removed all the flavor from them. That is why heirlooms taste sooooooo much better....but at least I know the beautiful bland grocery store tomatoes won't kill me.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I am 100% against the roundup seeds and also the ones unable to reproduce. I see so many problems with those. It just makes me nervous to mess with nature.



Quoting NWP:

IDK....I'm on the fence.

I have a real problem with GMO food that includes the Round Up Ready gene, that is crossed with other species of animals/plants, or is engineered to not self-reproduce efficiently so that farmers cannot save seeds....

But if its tweaking what is already in the fruit? IDK...I would have to see how this is different than selective breeding that is done over generations of plants...things that make tomatoes beautifully red but tasteless at the same time and that gave us the delicious honey crisp apple. If this is just a short cut on that process, then I might give it a little more slack. 

I think it is wrong and confusing to people to lump all these "techniques" under the blanket description of GMO. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?




National Woman's Party


TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:37 PM
I honestly don't think I've ever eaten a honey crisp apple. I'll have to try one :)

Quoting NWP:

I agree! But then there is also the Honey Crisp...and sweet and delicious example of selective breeding perfection.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I bought some tomatoes the other day fromWal-Mart . And as a rule I never buy produce from Walmart. They were terrible. No taste and just terrible. I bought some more from Meijer, vine ripe tomatoes, and they were so good. Sometimes we try to make things better and some things just need to be left alone.



Quoting NWP:

I absolutely agree with this. 

Even selective breeding plants presents its own problem....The selective breeding over generations that removed the gene that caused the cracked green shoulders on tomatoes because it was ugly also removed all the flavor from them. That is why heirlooms taste sooooooo much better....but at least I know the beautiful bland grocery store tomatoes won't kill me.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I am 100% against the roundup seeds and also the ones unable to reproduce. I see so many problems with those. It just makes me nervous to mess with nature.





Quoting NWP:

IDK....I'm on the fence.

I have a real problem with GMO food that includes the Round Up Ready gene, that is crossed with other species of animals/plants, or is engineered to not self-reproduce efficiently so that farmers cannot save seeds....

But if its tweaking what is already in the fruit? IDK...I would have to see how this is different than selective breeding that is done over generations of plants...things that make tomatoes beautifully red but tasteless at the same time and that gave us the delicious honey crisp apple. If this is just a short cut on that process, then I might give it a little more slack. 

I think it is wrong and confusing to people to lump all these "techniques" under the blanket description of GMO. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?




UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:39 PM
4 moms liked this
Nope. Fruits...plants evolved over millions of years to develop a genetic code that works perfectly. Id trust nature over the FDA any day of the week.
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:40 PM
1 mom liked this

I found the best ones at a farmer's market in NYC that got them directly from Upstate....and the ones in the grocery do not compare to those but are still good. Think Fuji but crisp firm as a granny smith and sweeter than Fuji. Its like apple candy in my mouth:)

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I honestly don't think I've ever eaten a honey crisp apple. I'll have to try one :)

Quoting NWP:

I agree! But then there is also the Honey Crisp...and sweet and delicious example of selective breeding perfection.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I bought some tomatoes the other day fromWal-Mart . And as a rule I never buy produce from Walmart. They were terrible. No taste and just terrible. I bought some more from Meijer, vine ripe tomatoes, and they were so good. Sometimes we try to make things better and some things just need to be left alone.



Quoting NWP:

I absolutely agree with this. 

Even selective breeding plants presents its own problem....The selective breeding over generations that removed the gene that caused the cracked green shoulders on tomatoes because it was ugly also removed all the flavor from them. That is why heirlooms taste sooooooo much better....but at least I know the beautiful bland grocery store tomatoes won't kill me.

Quoting TruthSeeker.: I am 100% against the roundup seeds and also the ones unable to reproduce. I see so many problems with those. It just makes me nervous to mess with nature.





Quoting NWP:

IDK....I'm on the fence.

I have a real problem with GMO food that includes the Round Up Ready gene, that is crossed with other species of animals/plants, or is engineered to not self-reproduce efficiently so that farmers cannot save seeds....

But if its tweaking what is already in the fruit? IDK...I would have to see how this is different than selective breeding that is done over generations of plants...things that make tomatoes beautifully red but tasteless at the same time and that gave us the delicious honey crisp apple. If this is just a short cut on that process, then I might give it a little more slack. 

I think it is wrong and confusing to people to lump all these "techniques" under the blanket description of GMO. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: The USDA's conclusion is that these apples are "pretty much" harmless. I find this a bit disturbing. It is or it isn't harmful. Why can't they say it's harmless?





National Woman's Party


Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)