First genetically-modified apples will go on sale in U.S. next month

Genetically modified Arctic apples (Arctic Apples/KXAN)

SUMMERLAND, BC (KXAN) — Starting in February the first batch of genetically-modified apples will hit shelves in the Midwest.

The agriculture website Capital Press is reporting the apples will be sold under the brand name Arctic Apples. The USDA approved the apples in 2015.

The company selling the apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, expects the fall 2017 crop to yield 6,000 boxes of apples. The modified fruit is unique because it has reduced amounts of enzymes that prevents the apple from browning too quickly after sliced or bitten.

“We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it a trade shows,” said Neal Carter, founder and president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, to Capital Press. “It’s a great product and the eating quality is great.”

Genetically modified Arctic apples (Arctic apples)
Genetically modified Arctic apples (Arctic apples)

At first, only 10 retailers will receive the new apples, the company has not announced which stores yet. The apples will be sliced and packaged in “grab-and-go” pouches. The only indication on the packaging that alerts the consumer the apples have been modified is a computer scan code. There won’t be any writing on the package identifying that it is genetically modified.

Critics of genetically modified food have said it can lead to an increase in the number of food allergies across the country. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that food allergies for children have risen from 3.4 percent in 1999 to 5.1 percent in 2011. However, there is not direct evidence linking the allergic reactions to the modified foods, according to a Harvard University study. 

However, the Harvard study points out that the problem lies in consumers not knowing what modifications have been made to the food they are eating. An example of this given by the health website Health Line, was from the 1990s when researchers used protein from Brazilian nuts in a strain of genetically modified soybeans. A report from the New England Journal of Medicine found that allergic reactions were triggered in people who had an allergy to Brazilian nuts. The soybeans never made it to shelves.

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