Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Genetically modified non-browning apples bring objections from other growers, including organic

Arctic Golden apple
Apples genetically modified to not turn brown could be on grocery store shelves as early as next year, a move that has upset apple growers across the nation, Michael Doyle reports for The Washington Post. In November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded that the two apple varieties pose no health risks. Since then, the agency has received nearly 80,000 public comments, most of them from those who oppose the apples, as it decides whether to allow them to be sold without further regulation. Among them is the U.S. Apple Association.

The apples were developed by the family-owned Okanagan Specialty Fruits of British Columbia. Across the border in Washington, which grows apples on 146,000 acres, providing 44 percent of the nation's supply, Doyle writes. Christian Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, told Doyle, "This is a huge issue, and it has great ramifications for our industry. We’re concerned about the marketing impact, from consumer impact to the imposition of additional costs.”

While many businesses fear the impact that genetically modified apples might have on marketing, organic growers fear cross-pollination. Doyle writes, "Unlike some other genetically modified crops, the Arctic apple doesn’t include genes spliced in from an entirely different species," but "from the insertion of a certain genetic sequence taken from an apple." (Read more)

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