Do your kids turn up their noses to apples that turn brown? Do you?
Soon that may no longer be a problem.
Early next month the first genetically modified apples are expected to go on sale in the United States. Golden Artic® apples, apples that are the “same” as the apple varieties people are familiar with, but genetically modified to eliminate browning through removing the brown-causing enzyme, will be sold in packages and sliced for your convenience.
According to the website the company wanted to make apples more appealing and convenient due to declining apple consumption. It also states that taking away the browning enzyme will avoid use of “added chemical additives or souring agents”, which can often slow the browning process. Many companies currently use vitamin C spray and in-home people can use lemons or lemon-lime sodas to delay browning.
The apples, which are produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) in Canada will go on sale at 10 stores in the Midwest. The company declined to name the stores in a CNN article and said that it will be up to the stores themselves to disclose that information. The U.S. will be the first test for the apples, which have not been launched in OSF’s home country of Canada.
“This is a Test Marketing exercise and should not be confused with the commercial launch,” said Neal Carter, a spokeswoman for OSF in an email. “We are not releasing the location information for this test market to avoid skewing consumer research data. When we initiate our commercial launch, planned for fall 2017, we will manage promotions consistent with industry standards and our retail customers’ needs.”
The United States Department of Agriculture approved the first genetically modified apples two years ago. According to the Arctic apples website the apples are perfectly safe and have been studied and reviewed by regulatory agencies including the USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Canada Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada.
“Biotechnology is extremely precise and allows for the introduction or, in this case, the removal of genes without causing any further changes to the plants and the resulting food products,” Carter said. “Arctic® apples were created by using the apple’s own DNA to silence the gene responsible for production of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), the enzyme that causes browning in apples.”
In the U.S. there are different agencies responsible for GMOs depending on the situation. The FDA is responsible for food, drugs and biological products while the Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of GMO pesticides and microorganisms. The FDA only regulates the final product outcome when considering something GMO, not the process by which they are produced. Meaning, if the end outcome is genetically the same, the U.S. does not require companies to disclose that they were produced through a genetically modified process.
“To be considered safe for consumption OSF had to prove that the apples had the same nutrition and composition as the conventional counterparts,” Carter said.
The Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny will be the first apples to be available with Arctic Fuji to follow. The company states on its website that the apples have the same nutritional value of a non-modified apple and they claim that when an apple browns it “burns up” the nutritional value of an apple. It also claims that you will still be able to tell when an apple is rotting because, “enzymatic browning, is different from the discoloration that results when rotting from fungal and bacterial infections” and the apples will still decompose.
Still, moms are apprehensive about losing the natural browning process.
“I have enough to worry about let alone people doing crazy stuff to fruit,” said Liz Winslow who has an elementary school son. “Does a little timer pop up like it does when you cook a turkey to say when the apple is bad?”
Here’s the part where I tell you I’m not necessarily opposed to genetically modified food, and I eat an apple a day, usually smothered in peanut butter. I’m sitting here right now as I type eating popcorn, which is probably from genetically modified corn because much of the corn in the United States is on some level.
I believe that genetically modified food might be the answer to solving some of the world’s hunger problems and/or issues with crop perseverance, but it’s a double edged sword because I also believe in going too far.
In this case, the browning of the apples isn’t specifically troubling to me as a person. As a mom, I know my daughter is less likely to eat an apple that had turned brown. I know that I am less likely to eat an apple that has turned very brown. I wonder though, if you take away the natural decay process of food, how will consumers be able to tell when the food has actually gone bad? Isn’t the browning the first step?
I don’t eat all natural and I don’t at all organic. I’ve worked in the food industry and I’ve worked for nutritionists. I do have an understanding about the method behind the perceived madness when it comes to food science. I actually love food scientists. They’re incredibly smart and problem solvers at their core. Pun intended.
However, I do also believe in complete transparency for the consumer. In the United States that can be such a slippery slope since the GMO regulation only takes the end result into account.
At the end of the day, I just want to know what I’m eating, where it comes from, how it’s made and then make the decision whether or not it’s something I’m going to eat or feel comfortable giving my kids. To do that we just have to be informed and it is the responsibility of companies to inform us, despite what the law says.
What do you think?
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