USDA Approves Genetically Modified Apples That Won’t Brown

Feb. 18, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced its decision to deregulate the first two non-browning apple varieties, Arctic® Golden and Arctic® Granny apples, in the United States. The genetically modified apples were developed by Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF) and will be marketed as the Arctic® Granny and Arctic® Golden.

When apples are exposed to air, the flesh inside turns a brown color, however, NPR reports that OSF has created these non-browning apples by “silencing” the genes that produce the enzyme responsible for changing the apple's color. Although farmers in the U.S. may now legally plant and sell the genetically modified apples, OSF noted it is currently engaging in a voluntary food safety assessment consultation with the Food and Drug Administration regarding its Arctic® Apples.   

Some critics of genetically altered food, however, are against the USDA’s approval. Lisa Archer, food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth said in a statement, “Despite the USDA’s flawed approval of the GMO apple, there is no place in the U.S. or global market for genetically engineered apples. Farmers don’t want to grow it, food companies don’t want to sell it and consumers don’t want to eat it.”