This story is almost straight out of a fairy tale. You know… the twisted, disturbing kind. We just can’t make this stuff up.
The USDA is nearing approval of a third genetically engineered apple from Okanagan Specialty Fruits. The company’s GMO apple (registered as the Arctic Fuji®) is designed not to brown when sliced or exposed to air. Any apple eater knows that an apple’s freshness and peak nutrition is reflected by the lack of browning.
This non-browning apple, however, would be a marketer’s dream, allowing them to deceptively sell what appears to be fresh, high quality fruit. The reality is that the GMO apple is a bit like a Twinkie (which can seemingly appear fresh for decades), as consumers will have no idea how fresh the company’s Arctic brand apples actually are.
Why Do We Need GMO Apples That Don’t Brown?
According to Okanagan, after their *heartfelt* consumer research (emphasis mine), they found the majority of apple eaters feel that apple browning is “an issue in their apple-eating experience.” In addition, the current method to slow or prevent browning involves treating the apples with sulfites or calcium ascorbate which they say increases processing costs by 40%. The company describes their GMO apple as a “cost-saving means for the fresh sliced apple business.” (I’m pretty sure they won’t be passing this new found savings on to the consumer.)
The Making Of A Genetically Modified Fuji Apple… Using Antibiotics?
Why do apples turn brown? When the cells of the apple are ruptured from biting, bruising or cutting, the oxidation process begins due to the presence of an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO). In the Arctic Fuji®, they SILENCE these enzymes. Every biological reaction within human cells depends upon enzymes. Without enzymes, there is no life.
This is where things start to get weird. The company inserts nptII, a neomycin phosphotransferase type II gene from E. coli Tn5. This gene allows transformed apple tissue to grow on a medium containing the antibiotic kanamycin, but offers no benefit to the apple plant.
In other words, every cell of every GMO apple tree, including the apple fruit, and the roots of the trees, will show resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin. Kanamycin is used to treat a wide variety of human infectious diseases and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
The Cornucopia Institute Stated:
The USDA left unexplored the question of potential changes to bacteria in the human digestive system from exposure to the GMO apple’s resistance to kanamycin. What is known is that resistance to antibiotics is a major concern among medical professionals. Further afield, the apple’s GMO DNA will repeatedly be added to the orchard soil and soil bacteria as leaves and unharvested apples fall from trees each autumn. The environmental impacts are similarly unknown.
The Fuji cultivar is the 5th most popular apple grown in the United States. Okanagan previously received approval from the USDA for its Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties, known as Arctic Granny® and Arctic Golden®.
Consumers who are interested in avoiding GMO apples entirely need to purchase certified organic apples only! GMO technology is expressly prohibited in organic agriculture. Considering they are right at the top of the Dirty Dozen list, they should be on your *organic only * list anyway!
The USDA is accepting public comments on the proposal until midnight Monday (EST), September 12, on the Fuji GMO apple. Make sure to drop in and leave them a piece of your mind (respectfully of course).