Beware the Arctic apple?

You might not think twice about buying sliced fruit for a snack when you’re on the go, but thanks to the Canadian corporation Okanagan Specialty Fruits, you might want to rethink your apple purchases in the convenience store. Okanagan is coming out with a product called the Arctic apple, a genetically modified organism (GMO) product that doesn’t cost less or taste better, just one that doesn’t brown like regular apples do after being sliced. While this might not be a selling point for grocery store goers, it could be a huge selling point for commercial companies who stock pre-packaged apple products on store shelves. The longer it takes for an apple to brown, the less money a company has to spend to replace it. SEE ALSO: Peru is first country in the Americas to ban GMOs Currently, companies use a citrus-based spray to keep commercial apples from browning, and since the U.S. produces more than enough apples annually, most people aren’t sold on the idea of the Arctic apple. And that’s not to mention that it’s a GMO, which carries a whole different list of concerns. According to Okanagan, the Arctic apple works by using gene silencing technology to turn off the polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzymes responsible for browning in apple flesh after the fruit is cut. Though this doesn’t outwardly sound like a bad thing, a petition to the USDA from the Center for Food Safety, indicates the silencing technology used in the Arctic apple has the potential to turn off or turn down genes of a similar makeup, including any that may exist in the human body. “These GE apples have been genetically engineered with a transgene that produces specific RNAs to suppress the expression of at least four members of a family of genes coding for polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzymes,” reads the letter. “The genes being targeted by RNAi technology in GD743 and GS784 have counterpart genes in other species that could be affected by the engineered RNAs.” The Center for Food Safety argues in the letter that not enough research has been done to conclude the Arctic apple is safe for the market. There are already GMO crops out there that have been approved only to find out they have potentially dangerous side-effects. GMO wheat products are one such item, and have been linked to the inadvertent shut off of human genes needed for glycogen production. SEE ALSO: GMO wheat: A potential cause of liver disease, death? Critics of the Arctic apple fear it will have similar results. “Is there any reason to worry about turning genes off? Yes. RNA manipulations may end up turning down, or off, genes other than those that were targeted,” stated Margaret Mellon, science policy consult, in a Live Science Op-Ed. “The PPO genes that cause browning in apples are part of a family of 10 or 11 closely related genes. Okanagan’s process is aimed at only four of the genes, but because the gene sequences are very similar it will probably have effects on all of them.  Why does that matter? PPO gene families perform multiple functions in plants.” Despite the concern about a GMO apple, the USDA is still considering approval for the product in the United States. To prevent this new product from reaching the market, GMO critics and apple farmers are joining forces. According to the apple farmers, there simply is no need for a genetically engineered fruit and the economic repercussions would be just as widespread as any health ones.The post Beware the Arctic apple? appeared first on Voxxi.

The GMO Arctic apple may be on store shelves soon. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

You might not think twice about buying sliced fruit for a snack when you’re on the go, but thanks to the Canadian corporation Okanagan Specialty Fruits, you might want to rethink your apple purchases in the convenience store.

Okanagan is coming out with a product called the Arctic apple, a genetically modified organism (GMO) product that doesn’t cost less or taste better, just one that doesn’t brown like regular apples do after being sliced. While this might not be a selling point for grocery store goers, it could be a huge selling point for commercial companies who stock pre-packaged apple products on store shelves.

The longer it takes for an apple to brown, the less money a company has to spend to replace it.

SEE ALSO: Peru is first country in the Americas to ban GMOs

Currently, companies use a citrus-based spray to keep commercial apples from browning, and since the U.S. produces more than enough apples annually, most people aren’t sold on the idea of the Arctic apple. And that’s not to mention that it’s a GMO, which carries a whole different list of concerns.

According to Okanagan, the Arctic apple works by using gene silencing technology to turn off the polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzymes responsible for browning in apple flesh after the fruit is cut. Though this doesn’t outwardly sound like a bad thing, a petition to the USDA from the Center for Food Safety, indicates the silencing technology used in the Arctic apple has the potential to turn off or turn down genes of a similar makeup, including any that may exist in the human body.

“These GE apples have been genetically engineered with a transgene that produces specific RNAs to suppress the expression of at least four members of a family of genes coding for polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzymes,” reads the letter. “The genes being targeted by RNAi technology in GD743 and GS784 have counterpart genes in other species that could be affected by the engineered RNAs.”

The Center for Food Safety argues in the letter that not enough research has been done to conclude the Arctic apple is safe for the market. There are already GMO crops out there that have been approved only to find out they have potentially dangerous side-effects. GMO wheat products are one such item, and have been linked to the inadvertent shut off of human genes needed for glycogen production.

SEE ALSO: GMO wheat: A potential cause of liver disease, death?

Critics of the Arctic apple fear it will have similar results.

“Is there any reason to worry about turning genes off? Yes. RNA manipulations may end up turning down, or off, genes other than those that were targeted,” stated Margaret Mellon, science policy consult, in a Live Science Op-Ed. “The PPO genes that cause browning in apples are part of a family of 10 or 11 closely related genes. Okanagan’s process is aimed at only four of the genes, but because the gene sequences are very similar it will probably have effects on all of them.  Why does that matter? PPO gene families perform multiple functions in plants.”

Despite the concern about a GMO apple, the USDA is still considering approval for the product in the United States. To prevent this new product from reaching the market, GMO critics and apple farmers are joining forces. According to the apple farmers, there simply is no need for a genetically engineered fruit and the economic repercussions would be just as widespread as any health ones.

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