GMO apples that won’t brown get U.S. approval

Take a bite out of this: genetically modified apples that won’t brown when sliced or bruised have been cleared for growing in the United States.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved two varieties of biotech apples developed by Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits — one called Arctic Granny, and the other Arctic Golden.

The Arctic apples are engineered so that their browning enzyme is inhibited. The company hopes these new varieties will drive up demand and sales of apples by making the fruit more appealing.

Okanagan president Neal Carter lauded the USDA’s decision.

“The commercial approval of Arctic apples, our company’s flagship product, is the biggest milestone yet for us, and we can’t wait until they’re available for consumers,” Carter said in a statement.

He also maintained that the apples’ “nutrition and composition is equivalent to their conventional counterparts.”

But many are wary of Arctic apples. The U.S. Apple Association — which represents the nation’s apple industry — believes they could harm the fruit’s wholesome, healthy image. Additionally, The Organic Consumer’s Association says the genetic modifications could be harmful to human health, and is calling on food outlets not to use the apples.

Despite push-back, the USDA maintains that Arctic apples are “not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment.” The apples are now undergoing a voluntary safety assessment with the Food and Drug Administration.

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