Are Americans ready for their first genetically engineered fruit? The Arctic Apple, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits is getting ready to hit supermarket shelves in 2014. Okanagan Specialty Fruits, is a biotech company that focuses on “enhancing” fruit by making them more resilient to ailments such as bruising and browning. Okanagan has created “enhanced” versions of the ever popular Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples (Arctic Apples) that will be less susceptible to the harmless enzyme that is responsible for the browning effect apples experience after being cut. This is a decade long endeavor that has finally reached the last leg of its expensive and exhausting process. My solution to the problem… don’t cut your apples, bite them!
While these apples will be more aesthetically pleasing, some consumers worry that genetically modified fruits may come with serious long term side effects. Although we do not yet fully understand the long term consequences of consuming genetically engineered foods, it is believed that Autism, ADHD, Cancer, and Reproductive Complications are all linked to the use of genetically engineered crops. Despite these concerns, Okanagan has proceeded with the development of genetically engineering apples, peaches, cherries, and pears. Now the largest obstacle of this process will be to keep the genetically modified apples separate from the naturally raised apples. The global agriculture industry remembers all too well the problems that ensued in 2006 when U.S. grain crops were infected with their genetically modified counter part. The situation prompted the collapse of United States export to the European and Asian markets (especially since seemingly everyone else has stricter standards for genetically modified foods than the U.S.).
However, there is a silver lining for those who fear laboratory fruit. Despite the recent agonizing loss of California’s Proposition 37, (proposing that all genetically modified foods must be labeled as such) many advocates for labeling genetically modified foods are charging forward on both the state and national level. Okanagan President Neal Carter even claims that he will leave the consumption of his creation up to choice. According to Carter, every Arctic Apple will be labeled as genetically modified in an effort to inform everyone of what they are eating. I guess that is all we can ask for.