Okanagan Apple to Serve as Litmus Test for GMOs

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GMOs have been the centre of a political debate for a long time. Now, a product made in Canada will serve as a major indicator to where that debate is in the public conscience. This debate could open up the floodgates to the GMO market, and result in a major shakeup to the food industry as a whole. If the Arctic Apple succeeds, many other products in other industries may be opened up to GMOs as well.

The Arctic Apple underwent limited release in midwestern markets on February 1. The company believes that the apple could be available in Canada in the form of slices by 2019.

The attraction to the Arctic Apple is that it will not brown. The hope for the Okanogan company is that this feature will compel people to try the product, and then hope they will like the product. In fact, they see it more as a matter of convenience, rather than an issue of GMOs. The argument for them, is that every consumer will want an apple that doesn’t brown.

The idea came to the company after realizing if baby carrots can become as popular as it had, because of convenience, then apples should be able to do the same. The company also hopes they can help reverse declining apple consumption.

Historically, GMO-style products have failed in the market. GMO products have been greatly limited in specific markets like corn, wheat, tomatoes, and more because of efforts from Anti-GMO groups.

Despite, the nine years of testing, Anti-GMO groups say the apple is understudied, and believe that consumers will not have any interest in modified apples – citing inability to measure freshness of apples without natural browning.

There is major hurdles that all GMO companies must overcome. In a poll conducted by ABC News, 52% of Americans believe that GMOs are unsafe to eat [1]. That is the environment that the Arctic Apple will walk into.

It should be noted that both the World Health Organization [2] and the National Academies in Sciences [3] have said there is no danger to human health from genetic modification.

Also, after three years of review [4] by Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada, CFIA said “[Arctic Apples] are as safe and nutritious as traditional apples, while Health Canada said the apple is safe to consume, and has the same nutritional value.

The big test for this particular apple, is whether or not the convenience of the product can overcome negative connotations of GMOs. If the apple can overcome the negativity surrounding GMOs, it will be a major turning point in the GMO industry. Which, in turn, will result in a big shakeup in the entire food industry.

References:

[1] http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97567&page=1
[2] http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/
[3] https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23395/genetically-engineered-crops-experiences-and-prospects
[4] http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/canadian-created-non-browning-arctic-apple-opens-gmo-debate-1.2295324

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