11:42 a.m. Karst: What has been the reaction from the apple industry? When I say apple industry, I mean the associations and other groups? Have you heard from the U.S. apple industry?
11:43 a.m. Carter: I have been somewhat disappointed in the reaction of the apple industry. With that said some have been very favorable and others have been concerned about the consumer reaction and trying to distance themselves from the product that way. But my original comment about the disappointment is that they seem to be all very surprised yet I have been keeping them fairly well informed. I gave a presentation at the U.S. Apple Outlook Conference leadership luncheon in 2006 and 2007. They really knew this was coming. It is not something that has happened overnight. We have been working on it for 12 years, for goodness sakes.
The fact that they haven’t given it much thought, or haven’t really thought beyond the research and development level, is a bit frustrating. Not just for me, but for many researchers in the field – a lot of the USDA ARS folks, university people that have worked in genomics and biochromatics and molecular biology techniques for breeding and a whole host of things. They sort of wonder, if you are funding all this work, don’t you expect to see product with recombinant DNA?
11:46 a.m. Karst: What are other areas that biotechnology/genetically modified research could be beneficial to produce in general or apples in particular? What other applications do you think might be helpful?
11:46: a.m. Carter: We have a pipeline of products with additional traits or stacked traits and there is a whole host of exciting things there. At this point, we’re really just focused on the Arctic apple program, because if it isn’t successful, what is the point of working on other traits? I saw a large article in the Good Fruit Grower magazine about apples in China, the fact that the quantity is big but the quality is really lacking. It may be that the control of enzymatic browning in apples and the Arctic apples may be better suited to other markets, like the Chinese market. We’ll just have to see where we go with that. There has been lots of work – ethylene inhibition has been proof of concept achieved, scab resistance, powdery mildew resistance, changing metabolic profiling of apples. There is a host of traits where the target gene has been identified and proof of concept has been achieved.