May 21, 2013
The small BC company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits is asking Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to approve a GM “non-browning” apple. The U.S. government could approve the GM apple soon. Contamination from GM apples threatens the future of our apples, and the farmers who grow them.
Take Action in BC During the Election
In BC, April 13 - May 14, 2013: Ask your candidates in the provincial election what their position is on the GM apple. Ask this question in all-candidate debates and make your concerns know. The new BC government needs to take action to protect BC apple growers from the GM apple. Click here for more information about what you can ask your candidates and updates in the BC campaign.
- Write to your provincial agriculture minister and ask them to take action to protect the apple growers in your area from the GM apple.
- Write or call your federal Member of Parliament. You can look up their contacts using your postal code at www.parl.gc.ca
Tell the government that you don’t want to eat a GM apple!
- Consumers don’t want the GM apple.
- BC apple growers have already rejected the GM apple.
- Contamination from GM apples is a risk to Canadian apple producers.
- Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are using public funds to review a GM apple no one wants.
- The government has not consulted with farmers and consumers and does not consider economic or social concerns before it approves a new GM crop.
The GM “non-browning” apple is engineered to keep from going brown after being cut. This apple is designed for fast food companies and food processing companies. The technology was developed in Australia and licensed by the small BC company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits asked for approval in the US in March 2010 and has just asked for approval in Canada. The GM apple has not yet been approved anywhere in the world.
The company wants approval to use of the GM trait in Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples but they say they want to also engineer Gala and Fuji apples.
69% of Canadians oppose the GM apple! See the consumer survey commissioned by the BC Fruit Growers Association and the Quebec Apple Producers Association, July 3, 2012.
Press Release, August 14, 2012: GM Apple Jeopardizes Okanagan’s Reputation, say local groups
How is the apple engineered?
The company has silenced a gene in the apple that controls browning by inserting a range of genetic sequences - Modified apple DNA is inserted along with genetic sequences from at least three different species:
- A regulatory gene switch from a plant virus (Cauliflower Mosaic virus promoter: CaMV 35S);
- A terminator sequence from a bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens taken from its Nopaline synthase gene: nos);
- An antibiotic resistance marker gene from a bacterium (Streptomyces kanamyceticus), here the nptII gene (which confers resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin).
What are apple growers saying?
In 2001, BC apple growers stopped the GM apple from being field tested in Canada. The federal government agricultural station in Summerland in the Okanagan valley, an important fruit growing area, was preparing to start field trials but BC growers who were concerned about contamination stopped these field trials from happening. As a consequence, the company has tested all their apple trees in the U.S.
In September 2011, CBAN and organizations from across BC organized a series of public events to discuss genetic engineering. At an event in Keremeos, Lee McFadyen of Mariposa Organic Farm and the Live Earth Organic Growers Association pointed out that there are already several varieties of apple that are slow to brown. On the GM apple, orchardist Andrea Turner of the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Producers Association said, “The tree fruit industry cannot afford anything silly like that”. Read the concerns of the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Treefruit Growers Association, BC.
The U.S. Apple Association "does not support the approval of this product" and says "Consumers like their apples and are not calling for these new “nonbrowning” cultivars." http://www.usapple.org/consumers/all-about-apples/consumer-updates-information
"Apples are healthy and nutritious they way they are. Browning is a natural process that results from exposure to oxygen. There are already naturally low-browning apples in the marketplace. In addition if you just put some vitamin C fortified apple juice on sliced or cut apples it will also prevent browning." - Mark Gedris, Director of Membership & Communications for U.S. Apple Association
- July 27, 2012 - CBAN Letter to the Editor: GM Apple Not Simple, Published in the Western Producer
- Taking the bite out of GM apples, by Lucy Sharratt, Common Ground magazine, July 2012
- Apple Cravings, Harry Burton, Canadian Organic Growers, June 2012.
Background on Canadian "Public Consultation"
- July 9, 2012 - Press Release: GM Apple Closer to U.S. Approval: Farce of Canadian public consultation exposed
- Letter to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency from CBAN, Public Process Lacking on Genetically Engineered Foods: Request to halt regulatory evaluation of GE "non-browning" apple July 9, 2012.
- The CFIA "public comment" period is over. Read CBAN's comments on the GM apple to the CFIA here.