Anyone who has ever clicked the tab on The Packer news site to see what stories are getting the “most comments” would find that the fairly innocuous story headlined “Arctic apple comment period extended” is in the top slot with a whopping 55 reader comments.
In fact, I’m not sure what The Packer’s record is for “most comments” is, but I don’t recall ever seeing a story with that many comments.
The tide is high on the GMO apple issue, and people are apparently not happy with the prospect that the Arctic apple could be granted non-regulated status. Check out a few comments that I reproduced here:
- It is a total alteration from real food...and it means we eat pesticides when we consume it!
- This poisonous fruit needs to be kept off the market permanently. GMO foods are causing rampant disease and sickness because of the extraordinary amounts of toxic pesticides applied to them. The cellular alteration allows for them to laced with much higher quantities of dangerous persistent pesticides, thereby in theory producing a greater crop yield.
- Stop poisoning us with these GMOs we want no part of any of it!
- GMO is not a ‘science issue’, it is an Ethics issue. Science is a tool, what we do with it is our responsibility. Altering the relationships in an infinitely complex, interdependent system that took millions of years to develop in the course of one human lifetime is foolish. Stupid. Egocentric. A bio-sphere will evolve, but it is not likely that humans will adapt quickly enough to survive. There is a system in place. A new one is not necessary. Modified genetics is hubris. The question is one of ethics, and what we are willing to be responsible for.
- We would never buy a GMO apple. Lemon juice keeps it from turning brown. Join the rest of the world in listening to/protecting citizens. GMOs are completely unacceptable and unconscionable.
And, with 55 comments, there is much more of the same.
The apple industry, safe to say, is in no mood to defend the Arctic apple to objecting consumers. They would much rather another commodity be in the spotlight, given the potential for market disruption confusion. Even so, I don’t think there is a overwhelming sense that the technology itself is “wrong.”
Mother Jones recently published a story called “5 surprising genetically modified foods” that listed papayas, sweet corn and squash among produce items that even now could be genetically modified.
I wonder how deep and wide the consumer sensitivity to biotech fresh produce will be going forward. If the Arctic apple doesn’t gain acceptance, will a biotech citrus variety that can resist the devastating citrus greening disease be embraced by growers? What would consumers think if scientists could incorporate potent anti-aging characteristics into fruits and vegetables through biotechnology?
In that case, would GMOs still be “unacceptable and unconscionable”?
I wonder if the “future shock” of advances in gene technology will leave this debate far behind, much as we look at the once-spirited worries about the microwave oven radiation.
In a CNN article about futurist Ray Kurzweil’s predictions for the next 20 years, Kurzweil made this amazing claim:
"We also have new tools that allow us to actually reprogram our biology in the same way that we reprogram our computers.
RNA interference, for example, can turn genes off that promote disease and aging. New forms of gene therapy, especially in vitro models that do not trigger the immune system, have the ability to add new genes."
I have a feeling that the future shock that Americans will experience in the potential to manipulate our own “programming” may soon overshadow passionate concerns about a non-browning apple.