The GM Apple That Doesn't Brown Ever!
How many of you have cut up an apple, left it on the plate, watched it turning brown, and then discarded it? Well, all that wastage could soon be a thing of past because a team of scientists is working on a revolutionary concept, which shall keep your apples white, always. So, no more rubbing lemon juice on sliced apples, you can cut your apple, keep it white, and have it too.
What are These New Apples?
A company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has a team of scientists who are working on genetic engineering of apples so that they can develop a variety which stays white even after it is cut up. The company is hoping that the new variety of apples will be beneficial not only to the farmers and marketers but also to the consumers.
Modifying food crops genetically is an oft-debated topic in the US. While it is nothing new for Americans, there is a lot of criticism about it. The new variety of apple is called The Arctic apple. It is the first GM version of a fruit and the team of scientists has assured that people can directly bite into it and enjoy the apple.
Why the Opposition?
You may think that a fruit, genetically modified to stay white, would receive a whole lot of public applause but, unfortunately, that is not the case. For starters, the US Apple Association (USAA) has opposed the marketing of the Arctic Apple. Although, USAA is not the only organization representing the apple industry, which feels so, its opposition is the most vociferous. The main reason behind the USAA's reaction is that the GM tag may rob the fruit of its image of being healthy and natural. As goes the saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, the apple industry feels that with the GM-interference, the saying may lose some of its sheen. President of the Northwest Horticultural Council, Christian Schlect, has this to say, "We don't think it's in the best interest of the apple industry of the United States to have that product in the marketplace at this time. What Schlect says definitely holds much weight because this organization represents the apple industry of Washington State and around it, which accounts for more than 60% of the country's apple supply. People who oppose GM fruits and vegetables are of the opinion that the benefits of such crops are often overstated.
The Public Opinion
The GM apple is, however, not an arbitrary effort. The US Agriculture Department (USDA) has indicated that it would invite public comments on the Okanagan experiment and the public will have two-months' time to reply on this venture. The OSF has currently applied for regulatory approval for the Arctic Apple, which is pending with the Department. Besides the US, the company is also seeking approval for its revolutionary fruit in Canada but the government approval is still pending.
Why Arctic Apple?
When asked what was the inspiration behind the non-browning apples, Neal Carter, Okanagan founder and president, said that the Arctic Apple would improve the industry sales, just like the baby carrots improved the sales figures for the carrot industry. Carter said, "If you had a bowl of apples at a meeting, people wouldn't take an apple out of the bowl. But if you had a plate of apple slices, everyone would take a slice." If OSF gets the due approval from the concerned authorities, it plans to launch the Arctic Apple in two varieties - Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. Both the varieties will have a synthetic gene, called Polyphenol Oxidase, which is responsible for prevention of browning.
Since US is already pressing Europe on GM foods, there is little doubt that the GM apple will meet the USDA approval. Well, the only reason why nobody serves apples sliced is that it turns brown. While sliced applces are currently being served at restaurants and in-flight too, proper care has to be taken so that they do not turn brown before consumption. If the public approves the OSF venture, and the USDA, too approves it in turn, you will soon be able to serve apples sliced up without bothering about the browning part.