“There are likely no GMO products in your produce department, although some squash, corn and Hawaiian papayas have been altered without the traditional crossbreeding or selective breeding methods,” is what I usually say. Now I’ll have to add apples and potatoes.
Judging from comments at the U.S. Apple Association Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference I attended and the Idaho Grower-Shippers Association Conference that a colleague went to, GMO versions of apples and potatoes will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
The Arctic apple, which has a non-browning trait, and Innate potato, which cuts down on bruising and acrylamides, are aimed at the processing market.
The Arctic apple’s biggest customer will be fresh-cut, which continues to grow dramatically. At McDonald’s, the fresh-cut sliced apples paved the way for other fresh fruit as a Happy Meal side to replace french fries (Cuties clementines passed market testing in Austin, Texas, and small bananas are now a possibility).
Even as national apple crop production estimates are at their third-highest, industry leaders aren’t too concerned. One reason cited by several is the growth in the sliced-apple category at foodservice and retail.
Although the apple association has come out against the approval of the Arctic apple — with concerns that anti-GMO blowback will affect sales of all apples — there wasn’t a sense of controversy or doom surrounding its eventual FDA approval. As the head of one state’s apple association said, “there’s nothing to do but let the market decide.”
On the face of it, there seems to be a strange double standard at work. Growers, on the average, embrace GMO technology as a tool to bring out desirable traits, like disease-fighting capabilities such as the sunspot virus-free Hawaiian papaya.