Human-kind can now say goodbye to the pesky issue of knowing when our apples are going bad, thanks to a newly approved crop of genetically modified apples that will never turn brown. This is truly what Neil Armstrong was talking about when he envisioned the leaps mankind were making in the name of science.
Thank goodness they didn’t spend their time trying to cure cancer. Browning apples could bring an entire society down!
Hailing from Canada, Okanagan Specialty Fruits has received approval from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, with the agency saying, “… based on a final plant pest risk assessment that finds the GE (genetically engineered) apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States … [and] deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment.”
Coming to a supermarket near you starting sometime in 2016 (it will take up to four years to produce a crop) the product is being called Arctic Apples and will come in both a Granny Smith and a Golden apple variety, with possibilities of Gala and Fuji varieties as well. This is great because variety is important when choosing something that’s been designed in a lab.
“What kind of apples is it in which I am comprised? Good apples? Bad apples?”
We’re obviously being a little facetious, but the fact is, this apple is just one in a long string of genetically modified foods that are popping up more and more despite public opposition to the process. In fact, roughly 70 percent of processed food items currently on supermarket shelves contain some form of GMO foods, typically in the form of the corn or soy ingredients they contain.
What’s more, we have no way of knowing, as consumers, what does and does not contain these fancy little ingredients because there are currently no requirements for labeling foods made with genetically modified ingredients. A point that founder and president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Neal Carter, is perfectly fine with.
“We’ve spent time and money on five years of regulatory work to prove and to demonstrate our product is as safe as any other,” Carter told CNN. “Label it just like any other apple. We’ll have information at the point of sale, and we’re very transparent on our website. Let the consumer decide.”
Yes. Because there’s so often a web address printed on an apple so consumers can double check if its DNA has been fiddled with while trying to load up their cart in the midst of a busy shopping day with three kids in tow during that 45-minute window they have between t-ball and dinner. Solid reasoning.
Geez, I hope my mom Googled this apple before she gave it to me.
The fact is, consumers are already deciding. A recent Pew Research Poll showed that only 37 percent of the general public feel that GMO foods are safe. This hasn’t stopped corporations from moving forward with their plans to tweak natural foods, however. In 2013 the USDA approved a genetically modified potato produced by the J.R. Simplot Company that resists bruising and produces less acrylamide when fried.
Simplot is one of the largest suppliers of potatoes for McDonald’s, so it makes sense that if the issue of ill health affects in their food is going to be tackled, we start with making a potato more deep fry-able.
While there is currently no direct evidence that GMO’s are harmful to humans, animals or the environment, anecdotal evidence is compelling enough to at least inspire pausing long enough to research the issue more thoroughly. Suspicions are falling squarely on GMOs for the decline of both honey bee and monarch butterfly populations, while The American Academy of Environmental Medicine found immune system issues, liver functionality irregularities and changes in the kidneys, spleen and pancreas of animals from eating genetically modified foods.
There’s no time to test this!! We must modify these apples or they will begin to discolor!!
“The USDA has neglected to look at the full range of risks from these apples,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in response to the USDA’s approval. “In its environmental assessment, the USDA glossed over the possibility of unintentional effects associated with the technology used to engineer these apples, potential economic impacts on the U.S. and international apple market, effects of potential contamination for non-GMO and organic apple growers and the impact of the non-browning gene silencing which also can weaken plant defenses and plant health.”
Mira Calton, co-author of “Rich Food, Poor Food,” agrees, telling CNN “Obviously, we can’t say without a doubt that GMOs are dangerous, but we can say that not enough human studies have been done. We don’t want to be the guinea pigs.”
So, how do we like them apples? Until more is known about the longterm effects of GMOs on health and the environment, the only thing we can safely say is at the moment, not a whole lot.
Lead Image Credit: Free PPT