The Modified Arctic Apple: Bad News No Matter How You Slice It

The genetically modified ‘Arctic Apple’ — which is devoid of the compound that turns apples brown and naturally fights off pests — is well on its way to being approved for growing and selling in the U.S.

| May 17, 2013

  • Basket of Apples
    Apples that haven't been certified organic are already at the top of the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list, for both the volume and stunning array of pesticides consistently found on them.
    Photo by Fotolia/Christian Jung

  • Basket of Apples

Thanks to the biotech industry’s relentless quest to control our food, McDonald’s, Burger King and even school cafeterias will soon be able to serve up apples that won’t turn brown when they’re sliced or bitten into. A new, almost entirely untested genetic modification technology, called RNA interference, or double strand RNA (dsRNA), is responsible for this new food miracle. Scientists warn that this genetic manipulation poses health risks, as the manipulated RNA gets into our digestive systems and bloodstreams. The biotech industry claims otherwise.

Of course, like any non-organic apple, the new GMO Arctic® Apple will be drenched in toxic pesticide residues, untested by the U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA) and likely unlabeled. And of course these shiny new high-tech apples will be cheap, priced considerably lower than a pesticide-free, nutrient-dense, old-fashioned organic apple that turns a little brown after you slice it up.

When the Biotech Industry Organization gathers in Chicago for the 2013 BIO International Convention, BIOTECanada will present its “Gold Leaf Award for Early Stage Agriculture” to Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. (OSF), purveyor of the Arctic® Apple, slated for approval in the U.S. this year. We hate to upset the biotech apple cart, but a pesticide-intensive GMO apple, produced through a risky manipulation of RNA, doesn’t deserve a place on our grocery shelves, much less in the agriculture hall of fame.

That said, the Arctic “Frankenapple” is expected to be approved this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), responsible for protecting agriculture from pests and diseases. It does not require approval by the FDA, which is responsible for human food and animal feed.



Just One More Bad Apple

Apples, that is, apples that haven’t been certified organic, already are on the list of Should-Be-Forbidden fruits. They reliably top the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, for both the volume and the stunning array of pesticides consistently found on them. According to the Pesticide Action Network’s analysis of the most recent USDA data, apples tested positive for 42 pesticides, including organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides. Both are endocrine disruptors, both have suspected neurological effects, and both are considered especially toxic for children. (Organophosphates are the basis for nerve gases used in chemical warfare, and have been linked to the development of ADHD in kids.)

Given the grim report card of non-organic apples, some might say it really doesn’t make any difference if we start tinkering with the apple’s genes and RNA. After all, unlike the case with GMO corn or salmon, scientists aren’t injecting pesticides or genes from foreign plants or animals into the genes of apples to create the Frankenapple. While most existing genetically engineered plants are designed to make new proteins, the Arctic Apple is engineered to produce a form of genetic information called double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). The new dsRNA alters the way genes are expressed. The result, in the Arctic Apple’s case, is a new double strand of RNA that genetically “silences” the apple’s ability to produce polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme that causes the apple to turn brown when it’s exposed to oxygen.

Stinggyray
10/12/2018 7:55:19 AM

SP1111, that's not how it works. It was originally retracted for unreliable conclusions and no conclusive data. There were no conclusive results - it was a random scatter of data. So no, those health problems are not causing health problems in animals (except maybe pests, who eat GMO poison and die (which is also harmless to humans, just like chocolate is poison to dogs)) Overall, GMOs will be a great thing if they can help provide food to the world. Sometimes, GMO is the only option. The Golden Rice crop, rich in carotene, which is being developed, once distributed to the third world, can give them essential nutrients they require which they often do not get. Another example is in Hawaii, where the papayas were being infected with a ring virus. The new GMO papayas introduced saved the $11 million papaya industry in Hawaii, by preventing the virus from infecting them. While the precautionary principle might be nice, harping on about "GMOs" is not. I understand if you do not want to eat GMOs, but please do not try to keep them away from starving people. If you think that never happens, I'd like to point out that some African countries have refused shipments of American food aid - simply because it has GMOs. While their people starved. Side note: I do not support companies like Monsanto or the ISPs, Capitalism is fundamentally flawed in the sense that everyone seems to just want money. Where is the caring for your customers? I do not support the predatory practices of Monsanto, but Monsanto and GMOs are not one and the same.


Stinggyray
10/12/2018 7:40:21 AM

SP1111, that's not how it works. It was originally retracted for unreliable conclusions and no conclusive data. There were no conclusive results - it was a random scatter of data. So no, those health problems are not causing health problems in animals (except maybe pests, who eat GMO poison and die (which is also harmless to humans, just like chocolate is poison to dogs)) Overall, GMOs will be a great thing if they can help provide food to the world. Sometimes, GMO is the only option. The Golden Rice crop, rich in carotene, which is being developed, once distributed to the third world, can give them essential nutrients they require which they often do not get. Another example is in Hawaii, where the papayas were being infected with a ring virus. The new GMO papayas introduced saved the $11 million papaya industry in Hawaii, by preventing the virus from infecting them. While the precautionary principle might be nice, harping on about "GMOs" is not. I understand if you do not want to eat GMOs, but please do not try to keep them away from starving people. If you think that never happens, I'd like to point out that some African countries have refused shipments of American food aid - simply because it has GMOs. While their people starved. Side note: I do not support companies like Monsanto or the ISPs, Capitalism is fundamentally flawed in the sense that everyone seems to just want money. Where is the caring for your customers? I do not support the predatory practices of Monsanto, but Monsanto and GMOs are not one and the same.


Altodor
7/6/2018 7:24:05 AM

Ive read a lot about studies and tests being done to make sure this is safe. I think you should read more about this RNA stuff before you say that scientists MAY think it does harm. Also think the pesticide thing is unrelated. There can be GMO apples that brown less and not use pesticides to protect them.







Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard
Free Product Information Classifieds

}