FOOD FIGHT: Canada's newly approved GM apple

A new genetically modified apple, developed in B.C., has been approved in Canada. We hear from the grower, and from someone who says it will confuse consumers.
The Arctic Apple on the right, does not brown like the conventional apple on the left, because the genes which produce polyphenol oxidase have been silenced, meaning the chemical reaction that leads to browning does not take place. (CBC)

This season on The 180, we've been looking at some of the controversies surrounding what we eat in a series called Food Fight. And just last week, Health Canada gave approval for the cultivation and sale of a unique kind of apple that is already setting off another culinary conflict. 

Okanagan Specialty Fruits harnessed genetics to create apples that do not turn brown, even if they're bruised, sliced or bitten. That would make it one of the first genetically modified fruits available to Canadian shoppers.

For the creators of the Arctic Apple, the fruit is a delicious blend of nature and science. They believe the apples will encourage people to eat more of the healthy fruit because they will remain attractive and appetizing longer.

But Lucy Sharratt, of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network says Arctic Apples might not look bad, but they could spoil the whole bunch for Canadian consumers. She believes the apples will create confusion in the marketplace because they won't carry labels that indicate the fruit is the result of genetic modification. She also has concerns about the process of approval.

Health Canada has decided that they're safe, but that doesn't mean that consumers necessarily trust that decision. Certainly the process is not transparent- Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

Neal Carter is the president of Okanagan Speciality fruits and is also the creator of the Arctic Apple. He says that as orchardists, he and his wife were inspired to create a non-browning apple to help reverse years of declining apple sales.

Carter says it took five years to get Health Canada's approval for the apple. He says Canadians should have confidence in the regulation system.

We found the process to be extremely arduous and a very rigorous science process that would challenge the scientific acumen of any company, let alone a company with only eight employees.- Neal Carter, President, Okanagan Specialty Fruits


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