As early as 2017, the new FDA-approved genetically engineered Arctic apple, which will soon makes its way into the country’s food system. But not before growers and consumers battle the GM apple.
Arctic apples, which are breeding in many varieties at Okanagan Specialty Fruits, use a genetic modification technology called RNA interference that manipulates the proteins in cells to grow these new non-browning, high-tech apples. While the biotech industry claim the apples are designed to be the “perfect apple for your busy life,” scientists confirm that the GMO Arctic apples pose health risks to humans. Not only does the manipulated RNA get into the body’s bloodstream and digestive system, the pesticide residue also causes a harmful effect.
The truly non-browning, genetically engineered Arctic apple was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) in which the agency stated on March 20 that the crops are just as "nutritious and safe as conventional apples," according to Chemical and Engineering News
While genetically modified organisms have found their way into processed-food products, consumers are concerned about them tainting “fresh whole foods.”
And baby food is one product that many consumers demand remains GMO-free.
A petition recently surfaced, which already collected more than 15,000 signatures, asking Gerber—a significant purchasers of apples—not to use Arctic apples in their baby food products. Gerber is currently listed as a non-GMO company on the Center for Food Safety list and said it has no intention of using the apples, according to the website Inhabitots, but consumers are taking precautionary measures through an online petition asking Gerber to remain GMO-free.
Not only is baby food in jeopardy, many consumers are concerned that Arctic apples will be served in school lunches and Happy Meals at fast food restaurants as well as will be used in numerous other companies’ food products.
According to Chemical and Engineering News:
A coalition of advocacy groups sent letters to fast-food restaurants, urging them not to sell the modified apples. The coalition warns of potential environmental, health and economic risks associated with the products. They also raise concerns that the products won’t be labeled as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), saying that consumers have the right to know whether they are eating GMOs.
While health concerns are the main focus for consumers, farmers are worried about the potential cross-contamination from pollen and the unknown impacts on the environment, according to Main Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.
The U.S. Apple Association and apple growers in the Northwest are very concerned and do not support these varieties – not for health concerns, but for marketplace concerns. They worry that consumer distrust of GE foods will translate into distrust of apples altogether and will seriously impact fresh apple sales in the United States and abroad.
While the Arctic apple isn't slated to make its debut until 2017, will consumers and farmers be able to stop the apple from entering the market?