The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reportedly been asked by a Canadian biotechnology company to approve its genetically modified (GM) apple, which resists browning after it is sliced. The British Columbia-based company apparently licensed the non-browning technology from an Australian company that developed it for potatoes. Approval of the GM technology could take several years, and U.S. apple growers have reportedly expressed concerns about cross-pollination with conventional apple trees as well as the cost of replanting apple groves with the “Arctic” apples, a figure estimated at $10,000 to $20,000 per acre.
Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, criticized the proposal, apparently claiming, “A botox apple is not what people are looking for. I’m predicting failure.” Yet, the sliced apple market has increased in recent years, with suppliers relying on calcium and ascorbic acid to maintain product freshness. The company seeking the GM apple’s approval claims that the technology will reduce the cost of producing fresh slices. While reluctant to adopt any new technology that could turn off consumers on the basis of taste or preference, the U.S. apple industry is apparently interested in learning more about the product. See Associated Press, November 30, 2010.