Would you buy a genetically modified apple that resists browning for weeks rather than only a few minutes after being sliced? The answer may come before the next Arctic apple begins to discolor.
Apples turn brown when their flesh is exposed to a certain enzyme, such as when the skin is broken or bruised. Okanagan reduced that enzyme and claims the sliced apples can last up to three weeks without oxidizing. While the company acknowledges there’s nothing “wrong” with browning, browned fruit is more likely to be thrown away, especially by children, according to the company.
To Jenkins, the Arctic apple experiment is more about putting a positive spin on GMOs. He said companies genetically altering food are battling a perception by a large chunk of the population that GMOs are bad for some unclear reason. If the public turns against GMOs, Jenkins said not only would that mark the end of genetically modified fruits and vegetables, but “anything” made with GMOs – “all fast food, all processed food, all soda pop, all everything.” It’s the producers’ hope, Jenkins said, that a GMO product can be developed and widely accepted.
“If they can say, ‘Look, everybody loves the Arctic apple. See, GMOs aren’t that bad,’ then suddenly everyone will be talking about GMOs in a different kind of way and nobody will resist them,” he said. “Nobody will be demanding labels for them, and it will be a PR bonanza.”
According to Okanagan’s website, the first two varieties of Arctic apples will be the Arctic Granny and the Arctic Golden. Fuji is next in line with others to follow.