Remember the old saying ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’? Well, you may have to rethink that. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture approved two new genetically engineered apple varieties and they will likely be coming to a supermarket near you soon. How can you recognize them? You can’t. Just like GMO sweet corn, these apples require no label.
The technology was developed in Australia and licensed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Canada. The apple is a genetically modified ‘non-browning’ variety that does not brown when sliced for 15 days or more. It’s intent is to support the sliced fruit market like those packages you find in grocery stores and airports. These apples have not yet been approved in Canada but based on other GMO products grown here, it could well be approved in 2015, despite over 69% of Canadians not wanting it approved. Associations representing fruit growers in Canada are also opposed. Consumer rejection and possible contamination from GM apples could threaten the future of Canadian apples just like the threat of GMO alfalfa.
But here’s the rub. The US based synthetic biology company Intrexon purchased Okanagan Specialty Fruits in February 2015. Intrexon website says it is “committed to building ‘A Better World Through Better DNA’” and in that light also bought AquaBounty in 2012, thereby owning the rights to the GMO salmon developed by that company. By the way, it also owns two European patents (EP 1456346 and EP 1572862) on chimpanzees genetically engineered with DNA from insects, for pharmaceutical research purposes. So why apples?
The ‘Arctic’ apple isn’t the only apple on the GMO agenda. They want to use the GM trait in Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji apples. What does the deep-pocketed Intrexon get out of it? Plenty. Apples are the second most consumed fruit following oranges. As of 2012, Canada purchased apples valued at nearly $193.1 million making us the second largest importers of apples and apple products from the United States. These lab-developed fruits are created in a way that could never genetically occur in nature. Should they be used in fruit juice, apple sauce or commercial baked goods, consumers would be totally unaware. Without mandatory labeling there is no way for consumers to distinguish between GMO and non-GMO apples in the produce aisle, or on the shelf, or in the freezer.
Although the U.S. and Canada approved the use of GMO crops nearly 20 years ago, over 300 scientists and over 100 health organizations world wide have officially stated that consumers should avoid eating foods laced with GMO ingredients. Eating raw whole foods like apples and sweet corn only aggravate matters. Doctors have already witnessed a sharp increase in food related allergies, digestive disease, Autism and even certain cancers that many believe are linked to GMOs.
Canadian consumers deserve the same rights as consumers in the 64 other countries around world that already require GMO labeling. Get Involved. Canadians have a federal election coming up. Contact your local politicians to find out their stand on GMO labelling.