Spark

The apple that won't brown

A genetically engineered perfect apple. Will you take the bite?
The Arctic Granny, one of three varieties of nonbrowning apples that Neal Carter has been developing for the past 20 years. (okspecialtyfruits.com)

It's been called nature's perfect snack. But what if the apple is not convenient enough?

"Chomping away at an apple is awkward. But if you have a plate of sliced apples they disappear in a heartbeat," says Neal Carter. "That whole apple isn't the convenient product we think it is."
Apple grower and bioresource engineer Neal Carter.

Neal is the president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia. He's spent many years, and millions of dollars, trying to create the world's most convenient apple -- an apple that doesn't turn brown, so it's always ready to eat.

How did Neal get the idea to make an apple that doesn't brown?

"We saw these little cut and tumbled carrots and thought, wow, their consumption has doubled because they've made them more convenient," says Neal.

"We thought we should do this with apples. But apples go brown. So we thought, we should fix this."

Neal used biotechnology tools to create apples that stay pearly white on the inside, even after they've been sliced. Hence, their name: Arctic apple.

"We insert the apple gene back into the apple, the plant doesn't like that, turns that gene off, we don't get the protein, the apple doesn't go brown." 

Neal is hoping 2017 will be his company's most fruitful year ever. A small amount of sliced and packaged Golden Delicious Arctic apples will debut in 10 stores this February and March -- the first time genetically modified apples will be available in U.S produce sections.

But will people will want to eat a genetically-modified apple?

"That's the question we need to answer," says Neal.

"We are confident. We know the apple is fantastic. But at the end of the day we just think the product will speak for itself."




 

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