U.S. Apple: GMO Arctic raises serious marketing issues - The Packer

U.S. Apple: GMO Arctic raises serious marketing issues

09/16/2012 04:45:00 AM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstThe number of comments submitted to the USDA on the deregulation of the GMO Arctic apple topped over 1,800 and more are added to the www.regulations.gov Web site daily, even though the deadline for comments was Sept. 11.


Here is an important comment about the GMO apple from the U.S. Apple Association.

September 7, 2012

Docket No. APHIS-2012-0025
Regulatory Analysis and Development
Station 3A-03.8
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

Dr. John Turner
Environmental Risk Analysis Programs
Biotechnology Regulatory Services

Dear Dr. Turner:

The U.S. Apple Association (USApple) is the national trade association representing all segments of the apple industry.  Members include 36 state apple associations representing apple growers throughout the country as well as packers, shippers, processors, importers, brokers and affiliated companies across the marketing chain.

We are writing this letter to express opposition to the granting of nonregulated status for two genetically engineered (GE) varieties of apples, referred to as events GD743 and GS784, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc.(OSF)  of Summerland, British Columbia, Canada.

According to the OSF petition for deregulation, the two varieties of genetically engineered (G.E.) apples pending before your department are intended to be marketed as “non-browning” apples.  In the opinion of USApple, this attribute is insufficient to warrant introduction into and possible disruption of the consumer marketplace.  It should be noted, however, that USApple does not believe these apples represent a human health concern.

I would like to emphasize that the apple industry strongly supports apple genetics and genomics research geared towards solving problems associated with diseases and insects that attack apples, as well as research conducted as part of USDA’s national rootstock breeding program.  USApple believes application of biotechnology may yield valuable attributes in the future.

The genetically modified apples in the petition offer questionable commercial benefit yet raise serious marketing questions for virtually all segments of our industry.  In addition to the questionable commercial benefits, we believe that granting the request for deregulation could lead to significant and unnecessary costs to the industry in the form of labeling and marketing efforts that would be required to differentiate conventional apples from the GE apples.

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Steve Savage    
Encinitas, CA  |  September, 17, 2012 at 02:21 AM

Tom, So, the official apple industry stand is that they know there is nothing to be concerned about with these apples and they would like to be open to biotechnology advances in the future, but they don't want the marketing hassle. Why does anyone think that they would be the beneficiary of future biotech if they have already rejected it coming from fellow growers. Why would any company or even any university invest in this industry in the future if that is the reception they can expect? The Arctic Apples are intended to be openly marketed as a product improved by biotechnology. In terms of differentiation, it will be no different to the consumer than a "Pink Lady" apple vs a "Fuji." The consumer can make their own choice. As for the export issue, how has this industry dealt with different allowances of things like DPA? It is a sad thing to watch an industry cave in to anti-science scaremongering even before it happens.

William Chappell    
Edmonton, Alberta  |  September, 21, 2012 at 04:52 AM

Overall the biotech developments have gone ahead with disregard for human health and the time is long overdue to make any developer prove that the products are safe before its marketed. They want to develop this junk in a lab and use us the public for guini pigs to feed it to. I have already had health issues due to fructose which is causing liver and stomach problems along with other products. Wake up Canada and the US force them to label it and leave it alone. GMOs are killing us.

A Durgin    
Waynesboro, Pa  |  December, 11, 2012 at 01:59 PM

Why are you afraid if they are merely using apple genes to tinker with other apple genes? There is virtually no other difference nutritionally or compositionally between Arctic apples and non-arctic apples than the fact that the particular genetic sequence that causes browning is turned off. What can be harmful about that? We are fruit growers in the northeast and so often we feel like our backs are against the wall when it comes to battling pests and diseases. We need every tool in the toolbox to continue to make a living. This includes improving varities and making them more disease and pest resistant.

Virginia  |  December, 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

@ A Durgin- If you really want an answer to your question, I would strongly recommend you take less than 2 hours of your time one evening and watch Genetic Roulette. It is a new documentary, which I watched this weekend at the AcresUSA conference. It is highly informative, and if this is something you truly want to understand for yourself as well as understand why so many consumers are now demanding the right to know if their food is genetically modified, this video will help you. Amazon has it for sale. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Genetic-Roulette-The-Gamble-Lives/dp/B0096DP4CG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355338721&sr=8-1&keywords=genetic+roulette

VA  |  December, 12, 2012 at 08:38 PM

A., it is comments like yours that scare me. GM crops are dangerous and harmful (read "The World According to Monsanto" or watch "Genetic Roulette - just 2 examples of materials out there that explain why these crops are dangerous). The fact is that these crops will not make you money - you will forever be indebted to corporations like Monsanto. There are many ramifications for using these crops and there are real reasons why a lot of Europe won't accept our GM crap. Before you make blanket statements, do your research. There are a lot of successful farmers out there that refuse to give in to Monsatan and their toxic seeds!

usa  |  December, 14, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Unfortunatly, genetics does not work that way. You cannot "turn off" one gene without changing the expression of at least 300 other genes. This produces unpredictable side affects and mutations. http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/genetic/genes-turned-off-on1.htm

Mike Janket    
southern Willington, Conn.  |  November, 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Currently, we note concerns by non GMO-canola growers as to dissemination of "altered genes" escaping to their normal canola populations. What if the pollen from Arctic apples is transferred to normal flowers? What does this engender? What if seeds are produced and scattered to the wild? We don't know, we can't surmise. Perhaps we'd have an acceptable situation, perhaps not, but we owe it to our respective environments to find out, don't ya think? Plus, what assurances exist that will preclude lawsuits by the Okanogan company that developed Arctic that they won't sue those that find an altered seedling emanating from an Arctic cross with normal non-GMO apples? Will the patent office reject potential patentees if Arctic genes show up in new progeny? Or, will the Okanogan company be like Monsanto and sue, sue, sue? These legal arguments must be satisfied before marketing of these cultivars. Plus, we have a communist president now, will he even ALLOW Arctic to be marketed or will he declare patents "null and void" because the "people" must all benefit from others' work? It sounds alarmist, I can assure you it is not. Many questions must be answered before introduction and commercialization. Otherwise, growers stand to take a tremendous financial hit IF the government disallows patent status and exclusive commercialization.

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