Will the public bite on the Arctic Apple?

Government and other proponents of the non-browning apple have repeatedly said “the market will decide” when addressing the question.

The question lingering over the Arctic Apple in the aftermath of Health Canada’s approval of the divisive genetically modified organism is whether the public will bite, says an advocate for fruit growers.

“It will be a couple of years until the apple is actually in the market, and how it will do is the great unknown,” said Fred Steele, president of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association.

The government and other proponents of the non-browning apple have repeatedly said “the market will decide” when addressing the question of whether it will bear fruit, economically.

To answer that question fairly, Steele said he believes there needs to be a bit of truth in the marketing.

“I’m not arguing the science. But if (Health Canada) decided there’s no problem with it, then there should be no problem labelling it,” he said. “Let’s let the people decide. If it’s fine — fine. If it’s not, (consumers) will let them know.”

Grocery shopping, he pointed out, should be no less transparent than car shopping.

“If I were to ask you to buy a car, you’d want to know what kind of car it was, who made it and what it contained,” he said, pointing out that labelling would create a level playing field for standard, organic and, now, GMO producing growers.

The Health Action Network Society is speaking out in response to the Canadian government’s approval of the Arctic Apple.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Michael Volker, HANS director of operations. “Health Canada has acted against consumer’s best interests and consumer’s desires.”

Other consumer groups have also rejected the GM apple including Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and Society for a GE Free B.C.

“Concerns with health safety and freedom of informed choice are a couple of reasons we continue to oppose introducing the GM apple into Canada.”

Although some are looking at Health Canada’s decision with a jaundiced eye, Summerland company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, celebrated the move.

“This follows U.S. approval of our first two non-browning varieties, Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny, earlier this year on Feb. 13  by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So, nearly two decades after we founded OSF, Arctic apples can now be grown throughout both Canada and the U.S.,” reads a statement the company released, Friday.

“Over the next couple years, we will be working hard with our grower partners to get as many Arctic trees in the ground as we can. With the support of our friends in the apple industry, and eager consumers alike, we hope to have small, test-market quantities of fruit available starting in late 2016, with greater availability each year thereafter.”

According to the Health Canada page where the approval of the apple is posted, the science behind the Arctic apple is quite simple.

“A gene was introduced into the Arctic apple that results in a reduction in the levels of enzymes that make apples turn brown when sliced,” reads the government website. “In every other way, the Arctic apple tree and its fruit are identical to any other apple.”

Scientists with expertise in molecular biology, microbiology, toxicology, chemistry and nutrition conducted a thorough analysis of the data and the protocols provided by the applicant to ensure the validity of the results.

“Following this assessment, it was determined that the changes made to the apple did not pose a greater risk to human health than apples currently available on the Canadian market,” it read. “In addition, Health Canada also concluded that the Arctic apple would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of the Arctic apple compared to other traditional apple varieties available for consumption.”

Health Canada’s assessment of Arctic apple was conducted according to the Guidelines for Safety Assessment of Novel Foods. The approach taken by Health Canada in the safety assessment of GM foods is based upon scientific principles developed through expert international consultation over the last 20 years with agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The approach taken by Canada is currently applied by regulatory agencies around the world in countries such as the European Union, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, and the United States.


Just Posted

Apex hosting Canadian selections mogul event

Apex Freestyle Club along with some local competitors from the B.C. Freestyle Ski team are competing

Video: Update one man arrested in Okanagan Falls

The RCMP has requested the school go into lockdown

Okanagan Taste: Favourite food and drinks of the past year

When it comes to food and drink, the most frequent questions I… Continue reading

Christmas hamper volunteers pitch in to give back to Penticton

Volunteers begin work in preparation for Salvation Army hamper distribution

New acting vice principal for Penticton Secondary School

The Board of Education of School District No. 67 (Okanagan Skaha) announced a new appointment

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Michaels: Big Brother has become a big letdown

“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, but privacy should still have some appeal.”

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Most Read