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Genetically-Engineered Apples That Don’t Turn Brown When Cut

A debate has ensued in the US fruit industry. This debate has been sparked by what is being called the non-browning Arctic Apple. We are well aware that if an Apple is sliced, it turns brown pretty quickly. However, what if the Apple didn’t brown at all and kept looking as beautiful as it is even after hours of being sliced. Now, just such an Apple is here.


This Arctic Apple has been introduced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits. For now, the company is trying to get the approval from the relevant authorities to market this apple. Without a doubt, if it is able to do so, this would mark a revolution in the fruit industry since this would be the first actually genetically engineered fruit that would be directly available to people.

How was the Apple unbrowned?
So how did Okanagan accomplish this? The fact is that when you slice an Apple, the polyphenol oxidase, which is an enzyme, starts its work and turns the Apple brown. However, Arctic apples have been genetically engineered with a synthetic gene which very swiftly reduces the production of this enzyme. The result is that the apple doesn’t turn brown.

According to the founder and president of the company, Neal Carter, “If you had a bowl of apples at a meeting, people wouldn’t take an apple out of the bowl. But if you had a plate of apple slices, everyone would take a slice.”

Opposition to the idea:
However, currently, the U.S. Apple Association seems opposed to this. The reasons for this opposition are rather lame. It isn’t dangerous, they say, but it will tarnish the image of apple as a healthy food in U.S. Apparently, they aren’t able to nuance their opposition better.

I think that the fundamental problem with non-browning apples would be that you would no longer be able to tell how old or stale are they. For instance, a hotel may slice up apples one day, store them and serve them to you the next day as fresh apples. You would never be able to tell since they wouldn’t brown. And this specific objection has been stated by a number of critics of genetically engineered crops.

According to the president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, Christian Schlect, “We don’t think it’s in the best interest of the apple industry of the United States to have that product in the marketplace at this time.”

For now, the application from Okanagan to gain approval for arctic apples will be up for a 60-day public comment period by the Agriculture Department. The outcome of this public comment portion is expected to decide the fate for these non-browning apples. So now, what remains to be seen is that what is the public opinion on this debate.

Source: NY Times

Courtesy: The Verge

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