US gives green light to GM apples

The US has given the green light to allow farmers grow two varieties of genetically modified (GM) apples.

The apples, which are being produced by a Canadian company, are expected to be on supermarket shelves by 2016 in the US.

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced its decision to deregulate two apple varieties genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GM) to resist browning.

The move comes after the US carried out risk assessment which is says found that GM apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the US.

According to the USDA, Arctic apples will, over time, age, turn brown, and rot just like any other fruit. However, Arctic apples are genetically engineered to produce less of the substance that causes browning.

When these apples are sliced or bruised, the apple flesh retains its original color longer instead of turning brown.

These apples have been developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF) and according to the company third-party research indicates that consumers are accepting of biotech foods when the modification benefits the consumer – added health or nutrition benefits, or more flavour.

It also says that Arctic apples sold to the fresh market will be segregated throughout the supply chain and labeled at point of sale. Processed foods containing more than 5% Arctic apples will bear the Arctic logo.