Genetically Engineered Arctic Apples Are Safe, Says FDA

Non-genetically modified apples. Will the public buy the newly approved  GM apples? (Image: PixaBay/CC0 Public Domain)
Non-genetically modified apples. Will the public buy the newly approved GM apples? (Image: PixaBay/CC0 Public Domain)

At what point are we going to stop with genetic engineering? Non-browning Arctic apples for commercial sale in Canada have now been approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada.

Genetically engineered Arctic apples “are as safe and nutritious as traditional apple varieties,” is what a letter sent to Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. from the CFIA said.

Health Canada has also said the Arctic apple “is safe for consumption, still has all its nutritional value, and therefore does not differ from other apples available on the market.”

Here, a scientist and an organic advocate debate GMO safety:

The approvals come after three years of review by Canadian authorities and follows deregulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month. On Friday, The Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. also approved the genetically engineered apples along with six varieties of potatoes that won’t bruise by Boise, Idaho-based J. R. Simplot Co., reported the mysask.com website.

“We are pleased that the FDA has completed their consultative review of our first two Arctic apple varieties, and their conclusion that they are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts is gratifying and should give consumers full confidence in the healthfulness of Arctic apples,” Neal Carter, founder of the Summerland, B.C. company, said in a release.

The first two varieties of Arctic apples to get the non-browning treatment will be Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, and Carter says there won’t be significant plantings until 2017.

The FDA’s review process is voluntary.

Both companies asked for a review to ensure their products met safety standards. As part of the process, the FDA compares safety and data of the genetically engineered food in comparison to a conventional variety.

Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in a statement objected to the voluntary system for approving genetically engineered foods.

Are Arctic apples safe?

“There’s no reason why these ‘Arctic’ apples and ‘Innate’ potatoes would pose any food safety or environmental risk,” he wrote. “That said, the process for allowing such new crops is badly flawed. Congress should pass legislation that requires new biotech crops to undergo a rigorous and mandatory approval process before foods made from those crops reach the marketplace.”

It seems the government is happy to let all foods slowly become GM products. I’m still not convinced it is a good idea.

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