Thursday, July 26, 2012

No GMO Apples!

"A small BC (British Columbia) company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has developed a genetically modified apple that will not turn brown when it is cut, even though 10 years ago, the genetically engineered (or genetically modified, GM) “non-browning” apple was actually driven out of Canada when BC apple growers successfully stopped planned field trials at a local government research station. Nonetheless, the company has now asked Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for approval.

When apple flesh is cut and exposed to oxygen, it begins to brown. But the GM apple or “Arctic Apple,” as the company calls it, “will decay naturally just like any other apple, but it will not turn brown from bruising, cutting or biting – not in minutes, hours or days.” In fact, the company president has told reporters the GM apple will not brown for 15 to 18 days.

But browning in fruit is not a problem; on the contrary, it’s helpful information. Without this visual cue for freshness, we could be eating apple pieces that are old and decaying. Non-browning is a cosmetic change that consumers have not asked for, especially as we already have techniques that slow browning – in our kitchens, we use lemon juice and the food service industry uses ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

OSF is asking for approval to sell two varieties of genetically engineered apples: GM Golden Delicious and GM Granny Smith, but president Neal Carter also says, “Our Arctic program isn’t going to stop with golden and the granny; those are just the first out of the pipe.” In fact, OSF says they are planning to engineer Gala and Fuji apples and also lists “future products” that include cherries and pears with the same non-browning technology.

OSF says the US could approve the GM apple this year and by 2014 it could be on sale in Canada. While our government has set up regulation to approve GM foods quickly and quietly, without any consideration of the impact on farmers and consumers, the GM apple and proposed GM alfalfa are putting this system to the test. While the federal government ignores the negative effects on farmers, local and regional governments cannot. On May 28, the City of Richmond just south of Vancouver, unanimously passed a resolution that states, “No further GM crops, trees or plants should be grown in the City of Richmond. This also includes GM fruit trees, all GM plants and shrubbery, GM vegetables, GM commodity crops and any and all field tests for medical and experimental GM crops.”


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