“Arctic apples” modified not to brown

By Grace King, Layout Editor

As a former lunch lady, my mother knows it all when it comes to serving food in large quantities. At my small Christian elementary school, I would sneak back to the kitchen to taste the food my mother was preparing the students for lunch.

Every week, the school served apple slices – the most delicious, tangy, perfectly firm apple slices. Serving large quantities of apple slices can be tricky when apples brown so quickly, but I remember my mother teaching me the trick to these delicious, one-of-a-kind apple slices: soak them in 7-Up to keep them looking fresh.

But that’s an old trick now. One that will be quickly forgotten along with the outdated term “lunch lady.”

On Feb. 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the sale of genetically modified apples resistant to browning when sliced, according to foodandwaterwatch.org. Engineered by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, these “Arctic” apples will make it no longer necessary for food service companies to treat their sliced apples with antioxidant chemicals to keep them looking fresh, according to NPR.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are engineered by adding genes to formulate more desirable variations of their products, according to CNN. In Arctic apples, the enzyme that causes apples to turn brown was turned off.

“This is really huge. It’s what we’ve waited almost five years for with regulatory approval,” founder and president of Okanagan Neal Carter said to CNN. Now we can get down to business planting trees and selling Arctic apples. We’re stoked.”

But not everyone is as excited as Carter.

Genna Reed, researcher with Food & Water Watch, which focuses on new technology issues within the food system, wrote on commondreams.org, “I fear that for apple lovers like me who prefer their apples un-manipulated, the approval of genetically engineered apples may taint the iconic fruit’s image.”

Mira and Jayson Calton, the husband-and-wife authors of “Rich Food, Poor Food,” launched a petition “Say NO to GMO Apples.” On their petition website change.org they say, “There are no long-term studies confirming the safety of GMO produce and no way to protect organic crops from GMO pollen spread by wind or insects, which would turn even organic apples into GMOs.”

“This particular food is very upsetting because we give it to our children,” Calton said to CNN, “It’s the symbol of health here in America. ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’”

Okanagan is still voluntarily working with the F.D.A over the safety of the GMO apples, according to the New York Times, but according to the Agricultural Department, the Arctic apples seem to be nutritionally equivalent to other apples.

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