The apples will not be labeled so there is no way of telling if they are genetically modified or not.
GMO apples have hit the supermarket shelves in the United States, although their labels do not state what they truly are. The roll-out of these apples is said to be a trial run of the new “non-browning” Arctic apple, which has been developed by the Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits, according to reports. The apples are only on sale in ten selected and unnamed stores across the American Midwest. Although the developer of the apples previously announced in a statement that they would be labelling and branding the apple, in fact they will not be labelled as GMO out of a fear that the apples will be “demonised” with a “big GM sticker”.
To find out about the GM status, that was created by the developer, OSF founder and president Neal Carter, consumers will have to use a scanner code on the package, which will then take them to a website. This means that if this is not done, there will be no other way of knowing if the apple is GM or not. The browning of apples that normally occurs is a natural chemical reaction which is caused by an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. However, the Arctic apple has been modified to block the gene for oxidase. The apples will be sold in stores already sliced, which will demonstrate their lack of oxidation.
Despite the innovation of apples that don’t turn brown, GMOs have been linked to health problems such as infertility, immune system problems, accelerated aging, and changes in the gastrointestinal system amongst many others. According to The Institute for Responsible Technology, a consumer advocate group, FDA scientists have repeatedly warned that GM foods can produce ‘unpredictable and dangerous consequences’, with the creation of new proteins in GM foods triggering allergies and nutritional problems, alongside new diseases. The Arctic apple was approved by the US Department of Agriculture in February last year, after claiming that it was unlikely to pose a planet pest risk to other plants in the US, as well as stating that it would not have a significant impact on the human environment.
According to Carter, the Arctic apple is the “most tested and scrutinized…probably the safest apple in the world”. However, environmentalists and GM opponents, such as Tony Beck of the Society for GE Free BC, do not agree with Carter’s statement about the safety of the consumption of the GM apple. Beck highlights the concerns of scientists of “serious health and environmental concerns about GMO crops,” and also warns of the possibility of contamination from the GM apple, with new generations cross-pollinating with conventional apples. Although Carter dismisses these concerns as “pseudoscience” and “paranoia”, the vast majority of the public still remain concerned about the safety of generically modified food products. A poll that was commissioned by the British Columbia Fruit Grower’s Association showed that 69 percent of people opposed approval of the GM apple. Only time on the market will determine the success or failure of the new apple.
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