USDA gives nonbrowning apples the green light

arctic apples

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has deregulated two apple varieties genetically engineered to resist browning.

These varieties, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., will be marketed as the Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden.

The company has also volunteered to have the new apple varieties safety tested by the Food and Drug Administration.


Following its final plant pest risk assessment, APHIS found the apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States.

APHIS also completed an environmental assessment, to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, that finds deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment.

Under APHIS regulations, the department is required to evaluate if apple varieties are a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants or plant products. A plant pest is defined as an organism, such as bacteria, fungi, or insects, that can cause harm to agricultural crops or other plants or plant products.


The Arctic apple varieties were developed through the use of biotechnology. Okanagan Specialty Fruits president and founder Neal Carter called the USDA announcement “monumental” for the small, grower-led company based in Canada.

Carter said the development of a non-browning apple included reducing the expression of a single enzyme, adding that there are no novel proteins in Arctic fruit and their nutrition and composition is equivalent to their conventional counterparts.

Waiting game

It will be some time, though, before Arctic apples find their way to store shelves. Since apple trees take several years to produce significant quantities of fruit, Carter estimates that Arctic apples will first be available in late 2016 in small, test-market quantities.

And, like many other new apple varieties, it may take years before non-browning Arctic fruit is widely distributed, Carter said.

He added, however, that Arctic apples, which have been grown in field trials for more than a decade, are “likely the most tested apples on the planet.”

For more information on Arctic fruit, visit

The APHIS assessment can be found at


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    • Dear Steve,

      the answer to your question is: NOPE.”

      they are banking on “the masses” lack of interest, gullibility, stupidity, or whatever.

      Okanagan will trumpet and label as: “NOT (yet) BANNED BY FDA.”

      My bones tell me this is going to be a big flop (and rightly so.)

      One has to ask oneself: “Why are these outfits always trying to make a near-perfect thing, like a home grown apple, “better?”

      Maybe they can invent robots to play professional sports; no strikes/lockouts; no salary belly aches; no worry about bad weather…the list is endless. BUT, then again, who would watch these unnatural beings? Hugh? It’s the natural and the wholesomeness people want; not some mechanical/electrical/GMO modified thang.

      P.S. Want an eyeful about human hubris, arrogance, and an “I’ve got Nature licked?” Try this story:

      She was fit, good looking, wealthy, but let hubris get the best of her, so now she’s dead. She went hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire by herself in February. She thought she was bigger than Mother Nature and she got spanked. Worse, she fired off an emergency beacon and put a bunch of other people’s lives at risk to come save her for being dumb. When they found her, she was a human popsicle. Mother Nature ALWAYS has the upper hand. Never forget that.

      Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

  1. I’m sorry–NOPE; no “Frankenstein” apples for me. Tarnation–even the one that the Devil gave to Adam and Eve was home-grown, organic, had no “genetic engineering,” and, DID, in fact, eventually did turn brown. Good enough for my ancestors, good enough for me.

    Why in heaven’s name would a bio-company spend millions on a goofy idea like this? So peeled and sliced apples will be able to sit around longer before getting brown or probably not brown at all?

    Ever hear of “freshness?’


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