The FDA recently approved a non-browning, GMO apple. But the idea that consumers won’t touch an apple that has started to brown once it has been cut open is a ridiculous reason to justify the creation of GM Arctic Apples, given approval by the United States FDA without any concern for human health. Especially when non-GMO, non-browning apples already exist.
There are numerous apple varieties that are slower to brown. Another GMO-alternative that doesn’t put entire apple orchards at risk from cross pollination is called the Opal Apple, a Non-GMO Project verified apple.
Ralph Broetje grows this non-GM apple – well millions of them – on over 1000 acres. The apple is a variety grown in the Czech Republic. It is a cross between the Golden Delicious and the Topaz apple, and due to its low occurrence of an enzyme that causes apples to turn brown, it stays crispy, sweet and tangy without browning for longer.
The Opal apple is a great substitute for the GM Arctic apple, and Broetje Orchards packs a whopping 25,000 boxes a day in a 1.1 million square foot warehouse. They provide 8 million boxes of different types of apples to people around the world – the Opal apple, among them.
So – why did we need the Okanagan GM Arctic apple again? The company isn’t even required to label these apples as genetically modified, even though a new biotechnology which has not been field tested is being used to create them – gene silencing.
What could happen if you turn off certain genes with ‘gene silencing’?
According to GM Watch:
“. . . Yes. RNA manipulations may end up turning down, or off, genes other than those that were targeted.
. . . many genes contain similar, or even identical, stretches of DNA. A dsRNA targeted to one gene might turn off, or down, those other genes. Similar DNA stretches can be found in unrelated genes scattered around the genome or, as in the case of the Arctic apple, in a family of genes closely related to the target genes.
The PPO genes that cause browning in apples are part of a family of 10 or 11 closely related genes. Okanagan’s process is aimed at only four of the genes, but because the gene sequences are very similar it will probably have effects on all of them.
Why does that matter? PPO gene families perform multiple functions in plants. Little is known about the PPO gene family in apples, but in other plants, PPO genes are known to bolster pest and stress resistance. This raises the question of whether non-browning apple trees might be more vulnerable to disease and require more pesticides than conventional apples — and whether they might transfer those vulnerabilities to other apple trees.”