December 6, 2016
Talking Points on the GM Apple
Summary: What’s the Problem?
- Consumers don’t want to eat the GM apple.
- The GM “non-browning” apple will be misleading to consumers because it will look fresh when it’s not.
- The GM apple is unnecessary.
- BC and Quebec apple growers oppose the release of the GM apple. The GM apple is a risk to the market for all Canadian apples, and contamination from GM apples is a risk to organic apples.
What is the GM Apple?
A company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits has just received approval in Canada to sell the world's first genetically modified (GM) “non-browning” apple. The “non-browning” apple is genetically engineered to keep from going brown after being cut. When apple flesh is cut and exposed to oxygen, it begins to brown but the GM apple or “Arctic Apple” will not brown for 15 to 18 days.
This apple is genetically modified (also called genetically engineered) which means it has genetic material from other organisms inserted into it. The GM apple has been spliced with modified apple DNA and genetic sequences from two bacteria and one virus. Together this genetic sequence stops the apple from browning.
The company wants to sell GM Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples first, and plans to engineer Gala and Fuji apples in the future.
The GM apple would be the first GM fruit grown in Canada. There are 4 GM crops currently grown in Canada: corn, soy, sugar beet and canola. The only other GM crops grown around the world are: cotton, papaya (U.S. and China), squash (U.S.), alfalfa (U.S.). This means that right now in Canadian grocery stores there are processed food ingredients made from corn, canola, soy but the only GM fruits and vegetables in Canadian stores are papaya from the U.S. or China, some squashes grown in the U.S. and a small amount of GM sweet corn.
Consumers Oppose the GM Apple
Browning in apples is not a problem, it’s helpful information for consumers. The “non-browning” GM apples are designed to look fresh when they’re not, and will therefore mislead customers.
69% of Canadians don’t want to eat the GM apple, according to a 2012 poll commissioned by the BC Fruit Growers Association.
Safety Testing is Inadequate
The company has not conducted any animal feeding trials to test the safety of eating the GM apples. Health Canada does not do any independent testing but relies on information submitted by the company. There are no consultations with consumers or farmers.
Customer Labelling Confusion in the Grocery Store
There is no mandatory labelling of GM foods in Canada or the US. The company says that they will make the GM apples identifiable in grocery stores with a sticker that has the corporate “Arctic Apple” logo. Even if the company does as it says, such a sticker is not informative and will easily lead to confusion and mistrust in the grocery store.
Apple Growers Oppose the GM Apple
GM contamination threatens the future of our apples, and the farmers who grow them.
- The BC Fruit Growers Association and the Quebec Federation of Apple Producers officially oppose the GM apple.