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Canadian biotech company pushes USDA to approve GMO apples

Saturday, December 04, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: GMO, apples, health news

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(NaturalNews) Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), a British Columbian biotechnology company, is petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve a genetically-modified (GM) variety of apple that the company says does not brown after being sliced. The company licensed the technology from Australian researchers who have already used it in potatoes to eliminate the browning enzyme. The current request marks the first time a company has sought approval for GM apples.

Though the company says the technology will lower the cost of producing sliced apple products like the ones now sold at many grocers and fast-food restaurants, it has not been determined that the GM apples are actually safe for human consumption, even though Neal Carter, president of OSF, insists they are safe for humans and the environment.

R. Andre Bell, a spokesman from the USDA, has indicated that the agency will have to review the proposal and make a proper judgment. Those opposed to the request cite cross-contamination problems and unknown effects in humans and the environment as several reasons among many for the petition to be rejected.

"Scientists have been saying they're only turning one thing off (the browning enzyme), but that switch is connected to another switch and another switch," responded Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, concerning the false notion that eliminating just one apple enzyme is safe. "You can't just do one thing to nature. It's nice to think so, but it just doesn't work that way."

Another concern about the GM apple is that it stays looking fresh for a very long time, even after it has technically gone bad. So if approved, suppliers and retailers will end up benefiting the most because the visual shelf life of the "Frankenapples" is indefinite.

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