After a long USDA approval process, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, a small biotech company, received the go ahead to sell the “Arctic-Apple.” It boasts a flesh that won’t brown or bruise as easily as traditional apples and a controversial attitude amongst consumers and apple sellers because it is a GMO.
Similar to the Innate Potato, this apple is not “transgenic.” The genes that were altered and inserted came from an apple not another organism. Nonetheless, it is not a product of old school breeding and reactions to its GMO status highlight the caustic debate over GMOs. Both Friends of the Earth and Food and Water Watch have issued statements against the sale of the apple and demands to companies to not use them. Andrew Pollack of the New York Times explains that the approval of the GMO apple is somewhat unique:
The apple will join relatively few other examples of genetically modified fresh produce, including papaya and some sweet corn. Most of the genetically modified food Americans eat is processed, containing ingredients made from engineered corn or soybeans.”
If you are of the mind that GMO’s are inherently dangerous or are not proven safe, then you might be opposed to eating a fresh off the branch GMO apple. The folks at Food Democracy Now are using this opportunity to demand GMO labeling laws. Check out their petition here.
And thus the GMO debate continues. Even though some sources proclaim that GMO consumption is perfectly safe, there is a mounting tide of consumer advocacy groups who want to know if and when they are eating GMOs. If not for the personal safety reasoning, then for that of environmental safety. Just Label It, recently wrote a compelling post on the correlation between GMO’s and increases in herbicide use due to herbicide resistance. This is one of the reasons states are writing GMO labeling legislation, like most recently in Rhode Island.
Yet opposition to GMO labeling runs deep. Most of this depth can be measured by the connections of big food businesses who stand to lose money over GMO labeling and the general public fear about GMOs. In a recent article by Alexis Baden-Mayer through Organic Consumers Association the link between, for instance the dairy industry and GMOs is made abundantly clear:
Milk consumption has been on the decline for some time now. Today, less than a third of dairy production goes toward making milk that people drink. To compensate, the industry pushes processed, dairy-based foods that contain a lot of decidedly non-dairy ingredients, including many that are genetically engineered. Yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese, and flavored milk have become delivery systems for genetically modified sweeteners, especially high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)."
Big food companies have a lot to lose over GMO labeling, so they are working hard to oppose it. If you are someone who would like to see GMO’s labeled, so you can know if you are biting into an Arctic Apple, head over to Food and Water Watch, Food Democracy Now and Friends of the Earth to learn more about how they are fighting for labeling laws and what you can do to support them.
Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval via NY Times
Feds approve GMO apple via Politico
First Genetically Modified Apple Approved for Sale in U.S. via Wall St. Journal
GMO Crops Increase Herbicide Use via Just Label it
Proposed Bill Demands Mandatory GMO Labeling in R.I. via Cornucopia Institute
Why Does the Dairy Industry Oppose GMO Labels? via Organic Consumers Association
Victory! McDonald's and Gerber say NO to GMO apples! via Friends of the Earth
USDA Approves GMO Apples Despite Opposition from Apple Industry and Consumers via Food and Water Watch
Say Goodbye to Apple Pie: It's Time to Label GMOs! via Food Democracy Now