Botox apples

June 2011

Apple fruit
Photo from Flickr
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has received its first request for approval of a GM apple.

Currently, sliced apples to be sold fresh are rinsed in acids to prevent browning of the flesh and “maintain freshness” (you can do much the same at home with a little fruit juice).

Gene-silencing technology developed in Australia to prevent potatoes browning when cut has been licensed by a Canadian biotech company and applied to apples, for sale in America. The aim of the ever-white apple is to reduce processing costs and make apples more amenable to producers of ready-meals and children's lunch-boxes.


As ever with GM, the biggest issue is safety. As the Center for Food Safety said:
“Scientists have been saying they're only turning one thing off (the enzyme responsible for browning), but that switch is connected to another switch and another switch. You can't just do one thing to nature. It's nice to think so, but it just doesn't work that way.” 
And besides any side-effects the silencing of a natural gene might produce, a botox apple is one whose age you'll never be sure of: would you feed it to your child?

Fortunately, the approval process for the stay-fresh apple is likely to take years, and it's uncertain consumers anywhere will accept them (see AWAKENING THE AMERICAN LION – June 2011).

Another GM apple in the pipeline is a red-fleshed, 'healthy' fruit with increased anti-oxidants. This has been under development by New Zealand scientists over the last 10 years, and at a cost of millions of tax-payers dollars. However, it will not be appearing in your green-grocers, because there's already a natural alternative.

A non-GM red-fleshed apple developed by Swiss researchers is on the market for gardeners to buy today. The 'RedLove' apple is sweet, tangy and delicious, attractive to look at, and versatile in the kitchen. Being the outcome of careful pollination and selection of existing apple strains, RedLove need not undergo any expensive and time-consuming safety or regulatory process. Nor will it need a hugely expensive PR campaign to market: consumers and their wallets will be in the driving seat.

The New Zealand biotech scientists were well aware of the rival RedLove apple's development, but elected to pursue the GM path to nowhere nevertheless.

OUR COMMENT

It might be more valuable to your child to learn how to prepare and eat fresh-fruit and how to recognise when it is, or isn't, wholesome than how to open a packet of uniform white, brown, or red lumps.

GM's aim is to boost the profits of food processors, and, it seems, to satisfy scientists with one-track, GM-fixated, minds.

Put health and safety first.


SOURCES
  • Jon Muller, GE Red Apple Scientists Pipped at the Post, GE Free NZ Press Release, 3.05.11
  • Shannon Kininny, USDA asked to approve GMO apple that won't brown, Associated Press, 29.11.10

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