Saturday, February 28, 2015

A new GM apple

              Would you eat this apple? Does it serve a pressing need? Is it safe?             

                           Comments due by March 7, 2015
(CNN)It's something pioneer nurseryman Johnny Appleseed likely never imagined.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday approvedAmerica's first genetically modified apples. Their appeal: They don't turn brown when bruised or sliced.
"This is really huge. It's what we've waited almost five years for with regulatory approval," says Neal Carter, founder and president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the Canadian company that engineered the apples. "Now we can get down to business planting trees and selling Arctic apples. We're stoked."
The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service granted its approval "... based on a final plant pest risk assessment that finds the GE (genetically engineered) apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States ... [and] deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment."
The Food and Drug Administration is not required to approve genetically engineered crops for consumption. Most companies engage in a voluntary safety review process with the FDA, and Okanagan is doing that.

Turn on, turn off

    Scientists working on genetically engineered plants and animals typically add -- rather than remove -- genes to formulate more desirable variations of their products. For example, a GMO salmon, engineered by AquaBounty Technologies, is mostly Atlantic salmon -- with a Pacific salmon gene added to make it grow faster, plus an added eel gene to make it grow year round.
    To create their Granny and Golden varieties, Okanagan turned off an enzyme that causes apples to turn brown.
    But what else did they turn off?
    "These are called 'nontarget effects,' and I'm comfortable and confident this hasn't happened," says Carter. "We've had them in the ground and have been watching them grow for 12 years, compiling data and statistics. The trees produce flowers and fruit of the same composition and analysis [as conventional apples]."
    But not everyone is convinced.
    What's really in your food? 03:35
    Mira and Jayson Calton, the husband-and-wife authors of "Rich Food, Poor Food," launched a petition two years ago to "Say NO to GMO Apples."
    "We sounded the alarm back in 2013 and hoped people would understand what a slippery slope it is to have all of these foods that are genetically modified," says Mira Calton. "Obviously, we can't say without a doubt that GMOs are dangerous, but we can say that not enough human studies have been done. We don't want to be the guinea pigs."
    "This particular food is very upsetting because we give it to our children," says Mira Calton. "It's the symbol of health here in America. 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.' "

    Are GMOs on your dinner plate?

    What you might not realize is that some genetically modified foods are likely part of your diet already.
    In November, the USDA approved a genetically engineered potato, developed by the J.R. Simplot Company, which uses a similar technique to prevent browning.
    Still, most of the genetically modified foods we eat are processed, containing ingredients made from bioengineered corn or soybeans. The majority of GMOs have been modified to fend off insects or survive being sprayed down with weedkillers, but the benefits of these new apples are geared toward the consumer.
    Where Carter sees apples that don't turn brown opening opportunities for more varied and prolonged use of the fruit, the Caltons see a conundrum. How will we be able to know when the apples have gone bad if they're no longer turning brown?
    We've got some time to mull it over.
    "It takes two years to build a nursery and another two years to get fruit," says Carter. "We're saying 20 acres of trees in the ground this spring will produce a small amount of fruit by fall 2016."
    When that time comes, Carter doesn't feel his company should be forced to use a GMO label.
    "We've spent time and money on five years of regulatory work to prove and to demonstrate our product is as safe as any other," he says. "Label it just like any other apple. We'll have information at the point of sale, and we're very transparent on our website. Let the consumer decide."


    Anonymous said...

    Personally, I would not eat this apple. By removing an enzyme from the apple, we are undoing the natural genetics that apples have developed over thousands of years. There could be long term side effects from eating this apple, and by the time we figure out the negative side effects the trees will already be in nature. After the trees are planted, the seeds will spread through the wind and animals to other areas, therefore causing problems for future generations.
    It is hard to understand why the U.S. department of agriculture would approve this GMO apple after only 12 years of research. I think they should be forced to use a GMO label. The label will inform people that the apple they are holding is not natural.
    I don't think this apple serves a pressing need. Natural apple trees grow in many places and have been doing fine for many years. Actually it seems silly to change genetics just to prevent an apple from turning brown while slicing.

    -Frazer Winsted

    Anonymous said...

    I agree with Frazer. I wouldn't eat this apple either. I'm not so concerned with the taste or anything like that, but more with stuff like the future of farming and agriculture. I feel like doing this kind of stuff can lead to problems we're having today, with pests adapting to the insecticide we're spraying. We'll be essentially creating a new generation of pests that will be able to destroy the crops that have taken us years to create. I also agree very much with Frazer's point regarding natural apples vs. this GM one.

    -E. Piper Phillips

    Anonymous said...

    I would not eat this able, nor do I really see the purpose of putting so much time and money into its creation. Although it would greatly decrease the amount of waste compiled from apples going bad so soon, people should just learn to eat their fruit earlier. It's unnecessary to create an entirely new species of apple just so they don't go brown so quickly. Also, I do not support the increased usage of genetically modified foods. I am a strong supporter of eating locally, and I think that the simpler the food the better. As a country we should be advocating a more natural diet, one that does not include foods packed with GMOS and other harmful chemicals. Again, I don't see the point in creating new lines of food which we already have access to. It just seems like a waste of money and resources to me.

    -Rachael Pepper

    Anonymous said...

    I am baffled as to why the FDA does not mandate laws or labeling to identify foods that contain GMO's in whole or part. If I had the choice I would buy non-GMO, and if possible I would buy organic from local farmers. To support local agricultural efforts that use sustainable efforts over factory farms that are changing the physiology of what we are eating and we do not know the working conditions of the employees that handle the food. Coupled with the dangers of the mono-cultures that these apples are being grown in, and all of the pesticides and/or fertilizers that are not natural or a part of nature on any level.
    This apple is a step forward in only understanding how DNA works, what it does when minor changes are made. This is good, but to understand the affect on humans it will take at least one lifetime to see the consequences of this food and how it will interact with the human body on any and all levels.

    Beverly Levine

    Anonymous said...

    I was just discussing this in one of my other classes the other day. We were discussing the growing movement away from genetically modified foods (GMOs) and towards a more organic, locally-grown lifestyle. What is interesting, however, is that most of the food that we eat now has gone through many forms in order to get to where it is now. Corn, for example, started out as very small kernels that were grown in Mexico. Over the years, farmers cross-bred various types of corn in order to try and grow bigger corn. The corn that we eat now has been cross-bred and modified into what we see now.
    While this is an example of a modification that has helped us over the years, I do not see why preventing an apple from browning would necessarily be a positive thing to bring to the general market. Sure, apples brown relatively quickly once cut up or bruised. But, like the article states, if we release this GM apple to the general market how will we know when the apple has gone bad? Or will it never go bad? That is my issue with GMOs, especially to this extent. How do we know when enough is enough?

    -Marrina Gallant

    Kobe Yank-Jacobs said...

    As a consumer, I would certainly be skeptical of the apple. I think that it's hard to conduct thorough enough scientific examinations in the limited amount of time this product has been existent. The suggestion Carter makes about not labeling the apple is absolutely absurd. I don't mind it being sold so long as consumers are well informed as to all possible associated risks. Another good point is made from those who ask how one would be able to tell when the apple goes bad if it doesn't turn brown. I think that this natural process serves and important purpose and we should really not tamper with natural processes created over long periods of time-- they usually have some important and possibly unforeseen purposes. I would not be surprised despite the so-called "conclusive" evidence in favor of the apple to hear about heath risk involved headlining the evening news several years from now.

    Chelsea Dow said...

    I have an issue with all GMO products, as I agree that not enough testing has been done. The negative effects that have been exemplified through GMO's application into Earth's soils definitely outweigh the positives. For example, as stated in the article, most popular genetically modified organisms are made to resist pesticides and fertilizers, which greatly degrades the landscape due to persistent pesticide application, inevitable run off into nearby streams and rivers, and "super weeds and insects." Though this apple does not fall under the same pesticide resistant category, I find it troublesome that we continue to work with food in a lab to create a product that strays so far away from their natural state. We perpetuate consumerism by manipulating food into things that look more desirable. An apple browning is its own mechanism of representing age and oxidation. It is meant to brown for a purpose. However, consumers will see an apple stay in its pristine state for longer and find that more attractive and appealing. Also, there is a stark difference between the age old method of cross breeding (which farmers have been using for centuries) compared to working with genetically modified organisms in a lab. Creating hybrid seeds is a lengthy process that uses plants of similar variety, sometimes incorporating methods of cross pollination (a process that occurs in nature without human influence). Creating GMO's is an entirely different playing field, using gene splicing methods, and many times using genes of vast varieties (eel to salmon). Whether this sits with you right or not, it requires much more research before we know if food from a lab is as safe as other age old methods. The final issue I have, as the article insinuated, is that of labeling. Whether you agree or disagree with the GMO process you have a right to know what you ingest. Personally, if I knew my apple was a GMO apple, I would not buy it.

    Anonymous said...

    I most certainly would not consider eating an apple that can't go bad. Isn't that the point of all fruits, they eventually go bad? Just because science has figured a way to remove an enzyme that rids the browning of the apple doesn't mean that it can't go bad in a sense. The brownish tint apples get is natures way of giving us a warning in a sense. The article says something along the lines of "an apple a day keeps the doctor a way". This is what were feeding to the kids of our generation. In the past people didn't think certain things gave you cancer, for example; cigarettes. The study of theses apples has only been going on for what they said was around 5 years. How do we know that in 20-50years from now these GMO products and these futuristic apples won't be causing harm like smoking or aspestus have? Which the number one thing this product should have is a GMO label, to at least warn the consumer of what they will be putting into their bodies. How are we sure that this conclusive evidence isn't a failure when it comes to human impact for the future?

    -Katherine Murphy

    Joan Podolski said...

    I am not sure that i would eat the apple, i may try it but the idea all around is weird to me. Out of all the things to try and fix in this world, why are we trying to change an apple? Did anyone ever complain about the browning of an apple? Do not get me wrong, i think its a neat idea that has been created, but still why the necessity for it.

    Mira Calton says, "Obviously, we can't say without a doubt that GMOs are dangerous, but we can say that not enough human studies have been done. We don't want to be the guinea pigs."With that statement i have to agree, how do we know that these apples are healthy for us or that they wont damage anything of ours.

    All in all, i think we should focus our energy on something more important other than browning apples or fruit in general.

    Michael Giordano said...

    In my opinion I think GMO's are great. i support the movement of GMO in some cases because it provides with an alternative. Although I agree with producing GMO's, I don't see the value of an apple that doesn't turn brown and I don't agree with scientist when they mix the DNA of different species to get what they want. I think GMO food should be labeled because consumers have the right to know what they are eating, as whether they would cause people to not buy their products, I'm not sure about the answer to that question. Additionally I believe that GMO's will be necessary if not essential in the near future if the Earth's climate continues to warm. I know it wasn't mentioned in this article, but I am aware that scientist are trying to modify certain crops to sustain drought longer and use less water. That to me is important and useless characteristic since it solves a real problem that faces the entire human population. Overall, I do support GMO's to some extent because this technology can benefit the humans in many ways.

    Anonymous said...

    I have absolutely no problem with this apple. I feel it is unfair to be blindly afraid of the "GMO" label. The fear of change and fear of the unknown should not slow progress. Why is 12 years of testing not enough? 12 years is a long time, especially when apple trees take only 3 years to produce fruit. It seems to me more than enough testing has been done. No company would release a product that has terrible consequences. All that would do is ruin said company. Most people eat multiple genetically modified foods every day. I do believe these apples should be labeled, as people have to right to eat organic or not. But if someone is going to make a huge deal out of genetically modified apples, then i expect that person not to take any supplements or eat any packaged foods (twinkies, goldfish, oreos etc.) as these foods are very unnatural compared to a GMO apple. For example, the filling or an oreo doesnt contain any dairy...think about that for a second. It is important to become educated on the science before neglecting a possibly very beneficial change. Not to say a non-browning apple is very beneficial, as the article doesn't explain how this is so beneficial.

    -Chris Magnemi

    Anonymous said...

    These GMO apples will pose a question for many consumers on whether or not to purchase them. The apples have pro's and con's to it. On one hand, it gives them a longer shelf time and will supposedly stay "fresher" longer. This will lead to less waste products and the ability to keep the apple for a longer time. On the other hand, the question is how do we know if the apple is safe to consume? Especially a product such as an apple that is supposed to be one of the healthiest foods to consume. I feel that if the apple is passed by the FDA and is proven to be healthy, then I see no reason not to produce them. I would however label the different apples because consumers should know exactly what they are purchasing. In my opinion however, I feel this research was unnecessary. Whether or not an apple stays fresher for two or three more days is way less important then many other problems in the world. The time, effort, and money should go towards other problems such as producing more clean water worldwide or producing a natural, clean solution to transportation.

    - Neal Vincent Raimo

    Victoria said...

    The food and drug administration (FDA) should require labeling Genetically Modified foods. Society is not well of the long term health effects of GM foods therefore, putting consumers at a probable health risk. Parents will not know how an apple that doesn’t turn brown will affect their children and the youth is our future.
    - Victoria Viguera

    Anonymous said...

    I would not eat this apple, its been modified. I understand that currently science tells us that GMOs are safe to eat, but as we all know this science has not been around long enough to actually know if it is going to have real consequences for our health or for the planets. People need to learn to eat what is in season where they live. as someone else mentioned this could lead to pests that evolve to become resistant to different things and that is something that we dont know. Sooner or later once these big companies get thier dirty hands out of the pockets of the government and scientists these things will be required to be labeled. who knows, maybe one day after 100s of years of research we will find out there is no problem at all with GMO's, but as of now i am unconvinced...
    _nick Stanton

    Anonymous said...

    i do not understand any need to change this perfectly fine apple. I would definitely be skeptical to eat this apple now and I agree with the many others who are saying that our time and energy should be put into something more important and pressing than testing an apple that was perfectly fine in the first place. I think our concerns have recently been placed in the wrong issues and we need to consider doing other things.

    - Victoria Kusy

    Anonymous said...

    I am not sure where I stand on GMO foods just yet. I see both sides of the argument. I do agree that more research should be done regarding the effects it has on both human and environmental health. I also think that this particular genetic modification is unnecessary. Perhaps more money/research should funneled into a need that is more crucial. Lastly, I do agree that they should be forced to use a label because obviously many object to GMOs and shouldn't have to be subjected to deception and not knowing what is in their food. Could the GMO movement be the answer to our future food production? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't rule it as being "all bad".
    -Emma Weis

    Michael Tierney said...

    Alright, so Canada got their GM apples approved to start growing "artic apples." greattttt. they claim that the apples wont hurt anyone or hurt any other apple crops, but why do we need to make our own food that naturally grows? On the other hand, apples are close to the tops of the charts for foods that have the most pesticides, so I guess it doesn't really matter since normally they are covered in pesticides inside and out. Who thinks the apple will hurt less or worse than the ones grown and treated with over 30 different chemicals?
    Well, they add genes and take away genes in this modification of the food and it is very sketchy to me. First off, when you start playing with genes, you are almost toying with God's creations, and personally I do not believe that we should be doing that not only in a religious aspect, but nature is definitely not going to sustain balance if WE keep modifying it. WE should not modify nature because the balance will not be right, and I believe it could get thrown off even harder if we keep turning towards these modified foods. Yeah its great to make an apple that lasts longer; it sucks when it goes brown, but everything dies eventually, so just to make it more convenient for us we modify it. Yeah, that doesn't sound like nature.
    They emphasize, let the consumer decide, when really that is just to turn it on the consumer and think "well hey! this apple takes longer to get brown. I should buy this one because it will make my apple eating more convenient." WE need to stop making everything so convenient for ourselves and start making it right with nature.

    Anonymous said...

    Genetically modified organisms need to be looked at individually. To say that all are good or bad is a generalization that overlooks the scientific data available. Modifications of this variety are useless, but possibly harmless. A better question in this case may be why is this necessary than if it should exist. Why do we want to create apples that do not turn brown. The most common answer is likely from chain restaurants that pre-slice apples and need them to look fresh for extended periods. Why should they be able to do this? It not only misleads a customer by possibly endangering their health by feeding them an aged apple, it also calls into question the transport of out of season and long-distance food loads.

    Other genetically modified foods are obviously worse candidates for approval. Modifications to genes in order to be climate, bug, and pesticide resistant have not been in existence long enough to claim their safety. Only with the coming of research and long-term studies will the answers become available. In the mean time I choose to err on the side of caution by choosing my food carefully, understanding that it is nearly impossible to avoid GMOs completely.

    -Nadya Hall

    Marisa Flannery said...

    It's hard to say, in my opinion, if this is bad or not. Their reasons for making this genetically modified apple seem reasonable. If no nutrients are being taken away from the apple then what's the problem? But on the other hand, who really cares about having a long lasting apple. What's the point in modifying fruits-- it only benefits large companies really. You never here people complain about how fast their apple goes bad because nobody really eats part of a apple, then saves the rest for later. Maybe now with them being modified people could, but I still don't understand the point of that. Personally, I won't eat these modified apples because there is no point and I feel it's a little unnecessary.

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