Arctic GMO apple: Is it getting closer

12/12/2012 05:36:00 AM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstIs the GMO apple getting closer to reality?

I talked to one source this week who believes the USDA decision on the GMO non browning Arctic apple could be mere weeks away.

At the same time, I notice there is pick up in activity on The Packer online for previous stories and blog posts about the Arctic apple.

Earlier this month, we received a press release from Okanagan Specialty Fruit, referring to a recent speech about the benefits of biotechnology from Neal Carter. From the release:

 
Summerland, B.C., Canada – Neal Carter, the president of tree fruit biotechnology company Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), recently delivered a presentation on agricultural biotechnology at a TEDx event in Penticton, BC. His presentation, which was delivered live on October 27, 2012, is now available online at the company’s consumer-aimed website.
 
Neal Carter has made it a priority to help educate the public on the value of biotechnology in agriculture. His presentation, titled, “Agricultural Biotechnology:  Feeding a Hungry Planet and Saving Lives” is meant to further that cause.
 
The twelve minute talk covers several topics including the history of biotech foods, the next wave of biotech crops currently in development, the benefits biotechnology can offer, the debate surrounding the technology and the need for more public education.
 
Carter, a bioresource engineer for over thirty years who also runs a family orchard in addition to OSF, says he was excited to have the opportunity to share such important information through a respected outlet like TEDx. Carter encourages everyone to watch the video and learn as much about biotechnology as possible before passing judgment.

 

TK: If the USDA renders a positive judgment on the Arctic apple, as many expect, it remains to be seen if there will be legal challenges soon thereafter. Whatever the case, Neal Carter and the Arctic apple will merit our attention in the months ahead. He is going it alone in this quest for the GMO apple.



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Peter Simonsen    
Naramata BC  |  December, 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM

Mr Karst, I tried to watch the video. I had to stop when it showed the starving child from wartorn North Africa; the implication being that embracing GMOs could save this poor child. Today I was shocked to read that the world health organization has rated worldwide obesity a greater killer than worldwide starvation. As a farmer I can't do anything about starvation that is caused by mans inhumanity to ones fellow man, but we apple growers have always been known as the ones who "keep the doctor away"; meaning of course that we can do something about maintaining health as long as people perceive that we are producing a healthy product. The fact is the jury is out on GMOs; for every scientist that says they are fine (and is not somehow financially beholding) there is another equally qualified one that says they either are not, need more testing or not worth the risk, so increasingly informed consumers are rightly confused and cautious. If, like you say the USDA is very close to approving this product, I would urge every apple grower in North America to think very carefully about the market implications of planting this crop. Peter Simonsen

Matt    
st paul, MN  |  November, 12, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Well said Peter! There are much better ways to support starving children than by supporting GMOs. Plus several countries have already banned GMOs, thus wouldn't take these apples if they shipped them for free. On the Arctic website it states that “By the time Arctic apples reach your market, they will be one of the most researched and tested foods on the planet.” Why the need to put that much money and time into attempting to create something that people have been growing and selling successfully for centuries. Seems like another group trying to cash in by patenting a part of nature, similar to Monsanto. The arctic apples are not able to say that they reduce spoilage, just the "yuck" factor they so cleverly coined. They are however just creating a new "yuck" factor. If someone stocking produce drops all the apples on the floor, you would not know that those are all bruised apples due to the fact that they don't turn brown. So now you are giving a false perception of freshness. When the customer actually eats that apple, they will be turned off by the bad texture, thus negatively impacting other apple sales. "Yuck" indeed!

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