Isn't it just so icky when the crisp flesh of your Granny Smith Apple turns an unappetizing shade of tan? If you're a persnickety eater or, say, a five-year-old, perhaps you're troubled by this phenomenon, whereby sliced apple flesh turns a bit brown when exposed to oxygen. If that's the case, you'll be thrilled to know that the Agriculture Department is thisclose to approving the so-called "Arctic apple," a genetically modified variety from Canada that retains its pristine color even after it's been sliced or bitten. For the rest of us, it's more than a little bit ominous.
Unlike "traditional" GMOs, which essentially combine genes from multiple species to create desired characteristics, scientists used gene sequences from other apples to prevent the "enzymatic browning." Champions for the apples have said they make the food more "visually appealing," especially to younger children who might balk at the thought of eating something brown. Companies that use pre-sliced apples (think McDonalds and Starbucks) currently use a chemical antioxidant called calcium ascorbate to keep the brown away. So pick your poison: Frankenfruit or chemicals or... organic produce that doesn't come prepackaged from an evil monolithic corporation?
Besides lingering concerns about GMOs in general, apple producers in the United States are concerned for their livelihoods, especially "the marketing impact, from consumer impact to the imposition of additional costs," a rep for the Northwest Horticulture Council told Seattle Times. There's further concern that honeybees will contaminate organic orchards after feasting on the hybrid apple pollen. Won't have to worry about that for long!
Good news if you simply cannot wait for your imported science apples: FreshDirect already sells a version.