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Three Genetically Engineered “Non-Browning” GMO Apples Are In Store Shelves! Here is How to Avoid Them

Genetically Engineered Apples: What You Need to Know

In February 2015, just two weeks after the approval of the world’s first genetically engineered apple, the company responsible for its creation cashed in — to the tune of $41 million dollars, ($10 million upfront), all for a highly controversial product that most people clearly didn’t want.

The company in question, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, had battled protesters, petitions and even the press for months before finally getting approval for its new “genetically engineered apple that doesn’t turn brown,” which was given the green-light by the FDA despite no independent, pre-market safety testing and no feeding trials.

In 2017, three different GMO apples, as well as pre-sliced apple packages, did hit store shelves, albeit in small quantities. And with no GMO labeling and little to distinguish the genetically engineered version from natural apples, people everywhere are being kept in the dark.

But First, What does GMO really mean?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) refer to organisms whose genetic material has been artificially altered using genetic engineering techniques. The process often involves inserting a desired gene from one organism into another, granting the recipient organism new properties. In the context of agriculture, GMOs are often plants that have been modified to be more resistant to pests, tolerant to herbicides, or to have improved nutritional content.

The science behind GMOs is grounded in molecular biology and genetics. The process begins by identifying and isolating the gene responsible for a particular trait in one organism. Once isolated, this gene can be inserted into another organism’s DNA using a variety of methods. Some common techniques involve the use of bacteria or viruses to “infect” plant cells with the new DNA, or the use of electric currents to introduce the new DNA into the cells. Once inside, the foreign gene integrates into the plant’s own DNA, and as the plant grows and multiplies, this new trait will be expressed.

However, the integration of GMOs into agriculture and our food system has sparked concerns, particularly regarding human health.

Here’s why:

  1. Lack of Long-Term Studies: One of the primary concerns is that GMOs have not been around long enough for us to fully understand their long-term effects on human health. While short-term studies have generally found GMOs to be safe for consumption, the potential for long-term health consequences remains a topic of debate and research.
  2. Allergic Reactions: There’s concern that introducing genes into plants might produce new allergens or cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. For example, if a gene from a known allergenic plant was inserted into another plant, it might transfer that allergenic property.
  3. Gene Transfer: Another concern is the potential for the inserted gene to transfer to cells in the human body or to bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. While the likelihood of this happening is low, and its implications uncertain, it remains a topic of interest and scrutiny.
  4. Unintended Consequences: Genetic modification might produce unintended changes in the nutritional content or toxic properties of the plant. For instance, there could be an increase in naturally occurring toxins, a decrease in nutritional content, or the appearance of novel compounds.

Back To Apples – Pre-Sliced Apples Hit Stores in 2017

As noted by recent news reports including this one by, a small amount of Golden Delicious apples that have been genetically engineered by Okanagan were expected to hit 10 stores in the Midwest in early 2017, ranging from February through March.

Since the report, no new information has surfaced on where the GMO apples ended up, which is just part of the frustration with the new GMO apples — they are not labeled as being GMO, and the company itself declined to mention which stores they were headed to for in 2017. The apples were labeled only with the ‘Arctic’ apple name, but consumers who presumably bought them likely had no idea they were genetically modified in a laboratory to be “non-browning.”

The lack of traceability and accountability is just part of the reason why the apples have been widely opposed in consumer polls; nearly 70% of Canadians did not want it approved.

Still, biotech companies have been promoting the GMO apple across Canada as of March 2017, in order to sway public opinion, much the same way that Monsanto and other biotech companies have donated money to schools for pro-GMO, heavily biased “educational” programs.

Three New Untested and Unlabeled GMO Apples

According to a post from the Facebook page GMO Free USA in fall 2016, a new genetically engineered Fuji apple was approved by the USDA, much in the same way that the original ‘Arctic’ apple was approved in 2015.

In total, three new genetically engineered, non-browning apples have been approved: Arctic Golden, Arctic Granny Smith, and now the Arctic Fuji apple. Gala apples could be the next in line as well. The first two were expected to hit store shelves in the U.S. in fall 2016, and now the Fuji apple could join them soon.

Because of the lack of safety testing, consumers have served as the guinea pigs for what is being dubbed the new “botox” apple. Unlike regular apples, the new GMO apples don’t turn brown when they go bad, leading many to wonder whether or not consumers could inadvertently end up eating rotting, contaminated apples without even knowing it.

Following their approval, the Organic Consumers Association launched a campaign to prevent companies from using the unlabeled “GMO apples that don’t turn brown,” and it has made headway, with McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Gerber already pledging not to use them.

The biggest target market for the apples, however, will be restaurants and food service companies who want to pass off an expired apple as a fresh, healthy one, which may be good for their bottom line.

Pre-sliced apples are often frequently recalled for safety reasons, but no one truly knows how these new GMO experiments will affect the human body. They work by “silencing” the gene that normally makes them turn brown.

“This whole thing is just another big experiment on humans for no good reason,” said OCA president Ronnie Cummins.

How to Avoid GMO Apples

According to the Ag publication, about 1,000 to 1,200, 40-pound boxes of Arctic Golden GMO apples were expected to be sliced and sold in grocery stores for marketing purposes in the western U.S. this past fall.

The company is growing most of its own apples in the Pacific Northwest, on the East Coast, and in Canada, and also recently just hired more staff in order to gear up for a commercial launch and PR campaign for more non-browning GMO apples in fall 2017.

Retailers, food service and quick-serve restaurants have all expressed interest in using the GMO apples according to the CapitalPress report, which means that people eating out may unwillingly become test subjects.

In order to make sure you’re avoiding the new GMO apples, here’s what you must do:

  • Buy certified organic or Non-GMO Project Verified whenever possible, or from a trusted local farmer
  • Do not buy any apples labeled ‘Arctic,’ which may be designated with a sticker or special packaging
  • Avoid buying any unlabeled or unknown pre-sliced apple brands, like those found in cafeterias or kids’ meals
  • Ask your local restaurants or cafes for information, and ask them NOT to carry to the new GMO non-browning apples

Even Apple Growers Nationwide Don’t Want GMOs

Fearing that the new unlabeled GMO apples could hurt their iconic crop’s image and lead to more consumer rejection and confusion (as well as crop contamination), many of the top apple industry players have already come out against them.

They include the Northwest Horticultural Council, which represents Washington apple growers responsible for over 60% of the U.S. crop, the U.S. Apple Association, and the British Columbia Fruit Growers Association. While the non-browning apple may be a boon for processed food giants and restaurants or cafes that want to save a buck on the non-browning aspect of these apples, the effects on human health are unknown, and avoiding it may prove to be exceedingly difficult over time if they are allowed to flow through the food supply unchecked.

“As usual, this product only benefits the biotech industry and big food processing companies,” wrote The Center for Food Safety on a petition page designed to get more food companies on board with boycotting the new GE apples.

Human Health Concerns and Unlabeled GMO Apples

The non-browning trait in these GMO apples is achieved by “silencing” the gene responsible for browning. While this may seem like a useful characteristic, it raises questions about the long-term effects of consuming modified apples. The lack of safety testing and feeding trials has left consumers as unwitting participants in an experiment, with potential health risks yet unknown.

Several organizations, including the Organic Consumers Association, have launched campaigns to prevent the use of these unlabeled GMO apples. Major companies such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Gerber have already pledged not to use them. However, the primary market for these apples is expected to be restaurants and food service companies looking to pass off expired or substandard apples as fresh and healthy, potentially jeopardizing consumer health.

Making Informed Choices

When it comes to genetically engineered apples, consumers have the right to make informed choices about the food they consume. The lack of labeling and transparency surrounding GMO apples raises valid concerns about the potential health risks and consumer deception. As individuals, we can make a difference by supporting certified organic or Non-GMO Project Verified apples and urging local restaurants and cafes to avoid stocking the new GMO non-browning varieties. By staying informed and taking action, we can protect our health and support sustainable, transparent food systems.

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