Yet B.C growers want to block Canadian sales

Artic Apple to tackle food waste

At a recent presentation at Crop Life Canada's Ottawa offices, Neal Carter, the creator of the Arctic Apple, a genetically engineered non-browning variety, explained that the goal is to get more apples into more places and reverse the trend of declining consumption. According to Carter, the non-browning variety is a more versatile snack and will lead to less waste of the commodity.

Yet, the BC Fruit Growers’ Association doesn’t want to see the Arctic Apple on grocery store shelves in Canada. The group passed a resolution at their Annual General Meeting in Kelowna to ask the Canadian government to de-register the product.

It was deregulated in the U.S. in February of 2015 and approved by Health Canada shortly afterwards, giving the green light for the sale of the apple in both countries.

The issue, says BC Fruit Growers’ Association President Fred Steele, is what could be a negative consumer response to a genetically modified apple.

Kelowna apple grower Amarjit Lalli doesn’t think the association will succeed in getting the variety de-registered. But his late resolution to push for the Arctic Apple to be labeled a genetically modified product also passed at the meeting.

Neal Carter, has championed its safety and rejected the idea of labeling it as a GMO.

“We’re not going to label as GMO. The concern is we’ve spent a lot of time and effort to prove it is as safe as any other apple…and this GMO label will really just demonize the product,” Carter said in an interview with Global News in February 2015.

Carter believes that applying genetic engineering to eliminate browning can potentially reduce food waste due to the huge number of bruised apples that are thrown out by the consumer and retailers, and the number of apples that never make it to the grocery store because of bruising incurred during picking or processing – some estimates put this number at 35% of all apples grown.

"We anticipate good value across the supply chain,” explains Neal. “Grower returns are better because there is less damage to crops; there’s also less damage at retail level so the product looks more appealing in the store. At home, Arctic Apples are convenient – you can cut up an apple one day and if it doesn’t get finished the slices will still be good a few days later.”

As for the varieties of Arctic Apple, Neal says that Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny have received approval thus far; he anticipates approval of Arctic Fuji by the end of 2016. Documentation for two strains of Gala apples will be submitted this fall and they are pursuing Macintosh and Honeycrisp next.


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