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article imageGMO apples that never turn brown to hit Midwest stores soon

By Karen Graham     Jan 22, 2017 in Food
Golden delicious apple lovers in the Midwest will be able to purchase apples that have been genetically modified to not turn brown after they are sliced. The GMO apples are being test-marketed in 10 stores starting in February this year.
A small lot of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious apples, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, Canada will hit the shelves between mid-February and March, reports WTVR Richmond.
Neal Carter, founder, and president of the company told the agricultural news website Capital Press, “We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows,” Carter said. “It’s a great product and the eating quality is excellent.”
Carter said the Midwest of the U.S. was chosen as a test market because the states were a good fit demographically as well as in presence and size. Carter was asked whether Midwesterners might be more accepting of GMO apples than consumers on the East or West coasts.
Carter said that consumer research didn't suggest that and it actually wasn't taken into consideration. “We don’t want to skew our test marketing results by choosing stores that may be more friendly to genetic engineering,” he said.
The apples were genetically engineered using a "gene silencing" technique that reduces the amount of the enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO) in the apples, which causes apple flesh to oxidize or turn brown when exposed to air. Arctic says that while PPO is important in protecting certain fruits and vegetables, it does not play an important role in protecting apples, reports Organic Authority.
The GMO apples match the industry norm of not browning for three weeks after being sliced but without flavor-altering chemicals added. The rest of the fresh-sliced apple industry does use chemical additives to prevent browning.
Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji varieties have been approved by the USDA and Canada. The Arctic Gala could see approval by 2018. Midwest stores will be receiving about 500, 40-pound boxes of sliced apples that are sold in grab-and-go pouch bags.
The GMO apple slices will not say on the label they are genetically modified, but a QR computer scan code will allow consumers to get that and other information on the apple slices if they have a smartphone. The Arctic company has orchards in British Columbia and an additional 85,000 trees at an undisclosed location in Washington state.
More about GMO apples, Okanagan specialty fruits, Golden Delicious, halts browning, polyphenol oxidase
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