In February 2015, just two weeks after the approval of the world’s first genetically engineered apple, the company responsible for its creation cashed in — to the tune of $41 million dollars, ($10 million upfront), all for a highly controversial product that most people clearly didn’t want.
The company in question, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, had battled protesters, petitions and even the press for months before finally getting approval for its new “genetically engineered apple that doesn’t turn brown,” which was given the green-light by the FDA despite no independent, pre-market safety testing and no feeding trials.
Now, after years of speculation, three different GMO apples are expected to hit store shelves. And with no labeling and little to distinguish the genetically engineered version from natural apples, millions of people are being kept in the dark.
Three New Untested and Unlabeled GMO Apples
According to a recent post from the Facebook page GMO Free USA, a new genetically engineered Fuji apple has been approved by the USDA, much in the same way that the original ‘Arctic’ apple was approved.
In total, three new genetically engineered, non-browning apples have been approved: Arctic Golden, Arctic Granny Smith, and now the Arctic Fuji apple. Gala apples could be the next in line as well. The first two were expected to hit store shelves this fall, and now the Fuji apple could join them soon.
Fuji apples are the latest variety that have been genetically engineered. Starting this fall, buying organic is the best way to avoid GMO Fuji apples. Photo via SpecialtyProduce.com.
Because of the lack of safety testing, consumers will serve as the guinea pigs for what is being dubbed the new “botox” apple. Unlike regular apples, the new GMO apples don’t turn brown when they go bad, leading many to wonder whether or not consumers could inadvertently end up eating rotting, contaminated apples without even knowing it.
Following their approval, the Organic Consumers Association launched a campaign to prevent companies from using the unlabeled “GMO apples that don’t turn brown,” and it has made headway with McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Gerber already pledging not to use them.
The biggest target market for the apples, however, will be restaurants and food service companies who want to pass off an expired apple as a fresh, healthy one, which may be good for their bottom line.
Pre-sliced apples are often frequently recalled for safety reasons, but no one truly knows how these new GMO experiments will affect the human body. They work by “silencing” the gene that normally makes them turn brown.
“This whole thing is just another big experiment on humans for no good reason,” said OCA president Ronnie Cummins.
How to Avoid the New GMO Apples
According to the Ag publication CapitalPress.com, about 1,000 to 1,200, 40-pound boxes of the new Arctic Golden GMO apple will be sliced and sold in grocery stores for marketing purposes in the western U.S. this fall. The company is growing most of its own apples in the Pacific Northwest, on the East Coast, and in Canada.
Retailers, food service and quick-serve restaurants have all expressed interest in using the GMO apples according to the CapitalPress report, which means that people eating out may unwillingly become test subjects.
In order to make sure you’re avoiding the new GMO apples, here’s what you must do:ally
-Buy certified organic or Non-GMO Project Verified whenever possible, or from a trusted local farmer
-Do not buy any apples labeled ‘Arctic,’ which may be designated with a sticker or special packaging
-Avoid buying any unlabeled or pre-sliced apples, like those found in cafeterias or kids’ meals
Even Apple Growers Nationwide Don’t Want GMOs
Fearing that the new unlabeled GMO apples could hurt their iconic crop’s image and lead to more consumer rejection and confusion (as well as crop contamination), many of the top apple industry players have already come out against them.
They include the Northwest Horticultural Council, which presents Washington apple growers responsible for over 60% of the U.S. crop, the U.S. Apple Association, and the British Columbia Fruit Growers Association. While the non-browning apple may be a boon for processed food giants, the effects on human health are unknown, and avoiding it may prove to be exceedingly difficult over time.
“As usual, this product only benefits the biotech industry and big food processing companies,” wrote The Center for Food Safety on a petition page designed to get more food companies on board with boycotting the new GE apples.