A company in B.C.'s Okanagan region is celebrating today after its genetically modified, non-browning Arctic apple was approved for deregulation in the U.S.
The Arctic apple doesn't oxidize — or turn brown — because its developers have figured out how to adjust the growing process to inhibit the browning enzyme.
"The commercial approval of Arctic apples, our company's flagship product, is the biggest milestone yet for us, and we can't wait until they're available for consumers," Neal Carter, president and founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits said in a statement Friday.
Two varieties of the trademarked Arctic apples will be marketed at first — the Arctic Granny and the Arctic Golden — with further varieties expected to be available to consumers in the future.
"All we've done is reduce the expression of a single enzyme; there are no novel proteins in Arctic fruit and their nutrition and composition is equivalent to their conventional counterparts," Carter's statement continues.
But when news of the B.C. cultivation first emerged in 2012, a poll commissioned by the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association and a group of Quebec growers showed significant concern among the public, with 69 per cent of respondents opposing approval of the Arctic apple.
In its decision to deregulate the fruit, the United States Department of Agriculture said a plant risk assessment showed the genetically engineered apples were "unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the U.S."
It also stated that the result of an environmental assessment found "deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment."
The first apples should be on shelves by late 2016.