The US Department of Agriculture has given green signal to Summerland-based firm Okanagan Specialty Fruits for the countrywide production of two varieties of genetically engineered apples having non-browning qualities.
The department’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service said that a go ahead was granted after the lab tests found no risk in the GOM variety of apples in the form of bacteria, fungi and other threats to other plants.
Welcoming the decision, Neal Carter, president and founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, said receiving the department’s nod after 57 long-months makes it a significant day for the company.
Both the GOM apple variants would be marketed as Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny.
According to the company, it developed the non-browning quality of genetically modified apples by lowering the production of one of the enzymes responsible for the browning effect in the fruit, without making any alteration in the nutrition value and changing the conventional taste.
While the Arctic Granny apples will resemble the Granny Smith apples that are meant for avoiding browning of the fruits, the Arctic Golden apples will look like Golden Delicious ones that don’t go brown.
According to the reports, the GOM apples are likely to be available in the market by 2017.
“As we see this GMO fruit hit the stands, it only becomes more important to have a clear labeling requirement to ensure that American consumers have the information they crave and deserve to know,” said EWG senior policy analyst Mary Ellen Kustin.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not required to give its nod to the genetically modified crops for the consumption purpose, but most food companies will be going ahead with filing voluntary applications seeking safety review process with the federal agency before finally putting them on the market.