Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection announced its decision to deregulate two varieties of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF)’s specialty non-browning apples.
APHIS is taking this action based on a final plant pest risk assessment (PPRA) that finds the GE apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States. APHIS also completed an environmental assessment (EA) to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that finds deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment.
Science Behind the Apple
Enzymatic browning is the primary type of apple browning. It is caused by the apple’s chemical reaction after cell injury, such as by bruising, biting or cutting the apple. Enzymatic browning is a predominant cause of apple browning due to handling, for example in your kitchen. Arctic apples don’t undergo enzymatic browning. (Let any food get old enough, such as leaving it in the fridge too long, and any apple – including Arctic apples – will eventually suffer other types of browning.)
To scientifically breed Arctic apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ science team turns down the expression of the apple PPO genes in a process called gene silencing, which utilizes low-PPO genes from other apples. Gene silencing is a natural process that all plants (and animals too) use to control expression of their genes. This apple-to-apple transformation is aided by time-proven biotechnology tools. In the end, Arctic apples produce too little PPO to brown. (For an even more detailed description of Arctic apple science, visit the OSF website.)
BIO Supports a Timely Regulatory Review of Biotech Products
OFS’s specialty apples’ Arctic® Granny and Arctic® Golden are exciting examples of modern biotech innovations that are engineered to provide the consumer with a product that benefits them directly.
BIO looks forward to the timely completion of the FDA food safety review of OSF’s Arctic® Apples.