A few days ago came the news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently given its approval for two types of apples genetically modified to resist turning brown after they're bruised or sliced, which could boost sales of apples for snacks, salads and other uses.
According to a report from The Associated Press:
Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny Smith apples are being developed by a Canadian company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. of Summerland, British Columbia.
The Agriculture Department gave its OK on Friday — saying the apples aren't likely to pose a plant pest risk or have "a significant impact on the human environment."
The first Arctic apples are expected to be available in late 2016 in small, test-market quantities.
It takes apple trees several years to produce significant quantities, so it will take time before the genetically-modified apples are widely distributed.
Meanwhile, the National Co+op Grocers issued a news release on Wednesday expressing a continued objection to the lack of mandatory federally enforced labeling of genetically modified organisms in light of the deregulation announcement last week for Arctic apple varieties developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits.
“The deregulation announcement for Arctic apples is the latest example of a GMO being allowed into the food system without a mandatory, federally enforced label,” Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCG, said in the news release. “Shoppers deserve the right to know what's in the food they buy, including whether or not food contains GMOs. Clear and proper labeling of food containing GMOs is key to empowering consumers to make informed purchase decisions.”
The NCG news release goes on to say:
Arctic apples received “deregulated status” from the U.S. government, which means they may be grown by farmers the same as any other food crop. Okanagan Specialty Fruits achieved deregulated status by submitting a request to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which has previously regulated the apple as a potential plant pest. Following two public comment periods, USDA decided to deregulate the crop.
While Arctic apples will not carry a GMO label, those sold in their whole, fresh state will have an Arctic branded label. These brand labels may not include a reference to genetic modification. Apples that are sold pre-sliced or to food service retailers and establishments will not necessarily carry the Arctic brand or GMO label.
“Shoppers who wish to avoid the Arctic apple and other GMO foods can continue to look for the USDA organic label. Buying certified organic is one of the most reliable ways to avoid GMOs,” said Shrader.
The topic of GMOs regularly generates plenty of opinion on both sides of the issue. What do you think about genetically modified apples and GMO labeling? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
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