WARNING, WARNING! We have been waving our warning flags against the production of Arctic Apples for years now.
In April of 2013 we formally asked you to join with us by signing our petition requesting the US Government to keep Arctic Apples out of our marketplace. To the thousands of you that answered our call “Thank you”. Unfortunately as we’re sure that you’ve heard, we lost the first battle in this war. On February 13th the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the commercial planting for two varieties of Arctic Apples to be sold in the United States.
For those of you that are new to our Calton Nutrition family and have no idea what we’re talking about let us start at the beginning. For ten years now, Neil Carter president and founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits based out of Summerland British Columbia Canada along with a handful of his scientists have been trying to attain approval from the Canadian and US Governments to commercially grow and distribute their Genetically Engineered Arctic Apples. So far the Canadian Government has yet to give their approval, however the USDA after three years of analyzing the issue and sorting through over 175,000 overwhelmingly opposed comments from other apple growers, food advocates, and consumers the USDA announced that their reviews have found Arctic Apples “are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk” and “is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment”.
So what makes an Arctic Apple any different from a regular old apple? Neil Carter would tell you nothing— that Arctic Apples still flower and grow just the same as any apple. And that Arctic Apples still react to ordinary orchard conditions and pests in the exact same manner as all apples. The only difference with Arctic Apples is that they have ‘silenced’ a gene that genetically solves the apples enzymatic browning problem. That’s right; the apple doesn’t brown when cut or bruised…even up two weeks! Imagine two week old apple slices just sitting on the counter. How gross, right? That is what you are really going to be eating without knowing it.
Ok we know that there are at least a few of you out there that are asking, so what’s the problem? You might be saying “My little ones won’t eat an apple once it’s cut and begins to turn brown, or I hate when I cut up apples for a fruit salad or a platter and they turn brown before I can serve them to my guests.” To this we answer, browning is a natural process due to the apples’ exposure to oxygen, a small cosmetic issue that we have dealt with for generations.
Browning is an important indication of an apple’s freshness. Browning is also an indication that the apple is less nutrient dense due to its prolonged exposure to air and light. This means that while the apple may still appear nutritious even after days or weeks of being cut open and exposed to the elements, micronutrients are quickly exhausted. This means that with every bite you are taking in less vitamins and minerals then you would be if the apple was fresh and non-gmo. There are easy ways of handling the problem; you don’t need to ‘silence’ the apple’s genes. Besides when one gene is ‘silenced’ could that have unintended effects within the plant and on organisms that eat the plant? Or could the apple over time shift mutation and in order to adjust alter its genetic structure completely?
Proponents of the Arctic Apple point out that since Arctic Apples don’t brown when bruised the growers have less waste, fewer unwanted apples that would otherwise not be purchased by consumers or the food industry. This in turn would benefit the growers financially. While we agree that growers, especially organic growers work hard for their money, we don’t believe for one minute that they would hesitate to put financial gain over providing the public with a healthy product that they can be proud of.
Opponents of the Arctic Apple most often ask how do we know how old the apple is if it doesn’t brown? Can the food industry essentially use ‘rotten’ apples in the production of apple juice, apple sauce, even pre-packaged sliced apples? While there are companies such as Gerber’s and McDonald’s that have already announced that they would NOT use GMO apples in their products, how about other companies? One opponent with a large number of backers Frank Steele president of British Columbia Fruit Growers Association (BCFGA) is “asking the Canadian Government to at least put a moratorium on it (the production of Arctic Apples) until we see how the American experiment works”. Great, only in America can a Canadian company grow and sell their Arctic Apples in the United States where we become the ‘guinea pigs’ for their experiment but not in their own country. Does anyone else see a problem with this?
Other opponents such as John Rice of Rice Fruit Company, the largest apple-packing facility in the Eastern half of the United States says that there is not room for GMO apples in the marketplace, that growers are already having a hard time selling to other countries since as we pointed out in ‘Rich Food, Poor Food’, Europe as well as 64 other countries have banned GMOs. America in our opinion does not need another Genetically Engineered or Modified food, quite the opposite we need to join with the other countries that have banned GMOs before it’s too late.
As Americans, are we selling out and sacrificing our health in the name of convenience? We believe that with the introduction of more and more genetically modified food, we are sliding down a slippery slope allowing the creation of many more GMO foods.
As we stated earlier, we may have lost this first battle with the Arctic Apple, but the war is not over by a long shot. Consumers speak loudest with their dollars. If we don’t buy it, they can’t sell it.