Fruit growers ask federal government to halt Arctic Apple approval process

But head of Summerland company behind genetically modified fruit growers should look at apple from different perspective

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association has asked two federal ministers to step in and put a moratorium on a genetically-modified apple, even as it approaches regulatory approval in the U.S.

The BCFGA wrote to Health Minister Rona Ambrose and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz requesting that the Canadian regulatory process for the Arctic Apple be suspended.

“Our concern is the negative publicity for apples in general caused by the controversy over this GM apple,” said Jeet Dukhia, BCFGA president, citing concerns over the damage the apple could do to apple marketing. “The public thinks of apples as a pure, natural, healthy and nutritional fruit. GM apples are a risk to our market image.”

Summerland orchardist and president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Neal Carter developed the Arctic Apple,using genetic techniques to turn off the gene that causes apples to turn brown after being cut. He claims that not only makes them more attractive to the prepackaged food industry, but the apples retain their nutritional aspects longer.

He finds the BCFGA attitude frustrating, saying they are “preaching doom and gloom.”

“They don’t ever think of the other way round, that this innovation could be showing that B.C. is on the leading edge of the apple industry and is responding to consumer interest with new products,” said Carter.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, he said, has already concluded the apple presents no pest control or environmental dangers. Carter expects it to receive regulatory approval in the U.S. after this round of public commentary is completed.

The USDA findings also state that a determination of non-regulated status of Arctic apples is not expected to adversely impact foreign trade  and suggests its introduction may enhance U.S. competitiveness in global markets.

“This is what we have been expecting and saying all along. We expect them to be approved in the next 90 days or so. That is our hope,” said Carter.

While progress is slower in Canada, he expects approval here by spring 2014.

Both the BCFGA and the Canadian Horticulture Council’s Apple Working Group, a national committee of representatives from each apple growing province, have taken positions against the introduction of the Arctic Apple.

According to a 2012 survey sponsored by the BCGFA and the Quebec Apple Producers Association, the public is skeptical about GM foods.

The survey showed that 69 per cent of Canadians are not in favour of GM food and 91 per cent said GM labelling should be mandatory.

“If 76 per cent of people say the Canadian government has not provided adequate information to the public on GM foods, how can the government then approve these products for introduction to an unprepared marketplace?” asked Dukhia.

Carter said their research, including a current program, shows the opposite.

“We’re just in the midst of completing some consumer research in shopping malls across the U.S. We are finding people extremely interested in this product,” he said. “Once the consumers have seen and experienced the product, they’re going to love it.”

Carter suggests a lack of education about biotech sciences is behind much of the opposition to his apples.

“Arctic Apples are just an apple. People are getting awfully excited about just an apple,” said Carter.

“I am excited too. I am excited the other way, though: for it to happen and people to experience this product because it’s fantastic.

“We wouldn’t put this much effort into something if we didn’t think it was worth it.”


Just Posted

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read