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GMO apples get U.S. Approval

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After years of waiting, a genetically engineered brand of apple, called Arctic apples, has been U.S approved for commercial planting, The New York Times reported. The developer, Neal Carter, of the company Okanagan Specialty Fruits, says because it will make sliced apples more appealing and beautiful without the brown color, he believes this GMO apple will be popular and welcome with both consumers and food services companies. This non-browning feature also can decrease the wasteful discarding of apples because of their bruising. The modified apple will be called "Arctic." Carter said that so far there are four growers who would like to plant about 20,000 of these apple trees. By the fall of 2016, there will be about 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of apples that will be available to food services companies and other potential buyers. Seini Vamanrav, a freshman from Tonga majoring in business finance said, “From my own perspective, I think that what they are trying to promote is really good and would be great for business. Their target will be achieved and they will get many customers, because customers would prefer apples that will not turn brown than those that will turn brown from slicing. This GMO apple slicer will be effective now and in many more years to come.”This GMO apple joins the ranks of genetically modified papaya and sweet corn, which are the few examples of GMO fresh produce so far. The purpose behind developing this GMO apple is one of the few meant to cater to consumers instead of farmers. The major difference between this GMO apple with other GMO crops is the non-browning effect is not created by adding genes from another species into apple’s DNA. In other words, it hasn’t changed the apple’s DNA. Instead, the apple’s lack of browning is totally reliant on the apple’s own modified genes. However, some consumer and environmental groups oppose these GMO apples, as there are not enough valid tests to insure the safety of genetically modified crops in general. These groups also advocate for genetically modified foods to be labeled accordingly. Food companies like McDonald’s and Gerber said they have no plans to use the apples, according to the New York Times. Bethany James, a freshman from New Zealand seems to not care about the GMO controversy too much. She said, even though she knows GMO food may not be very healthy, she will not have any problems with eating them. Consumer groups fear that cutting off the genes that cause browning in the Arctic apples could have unknown effects. However, the Agriculture Department said that GMO apples seem to have the nutritional value equal to unmodified apples. Savanna Jane Gregory, a senior in EXS from Utah agreed with this: “As much as I dislike brown apples, I don’t like the idea of continuing to modify our foods. The way we are genetically modifying food is starting to have negative effects on our population. The human body doesn’t always know how to digest processed foods, causing some people to be allergic or intolerant to them as a result.” “That clear identification of the Arctic brand will help consumers make clear, informed choices if Okanagan apples do become available in stores in a few years,” said Wendy Brannen, director of consumer health and public relations for the U.S. Apple Association, in an email.Uploaded March 2, 2015
Writer: Siyang Chen