Non-Browning Apples Go Before USDA

Genetically modified apples never turn brown

There’s just something inherently suspicious about food that never goes bad. We look askance at that 50-year-old Twinkie and wonder, "What wizardry is this?" Things are supposed to get moldy and go bad if they’re out too long, because if the bacteria don’t want to eat it, maybe we should think twice.

But Okanagan Specialty Fruits does not agree. According to The Huffington Post, they think apples should stay fresh and crisp and never turn brown or mushy, so they’ve genetically engineered a bright red apple that gives perfect slices every time.

The "Arctic Apple," as it’s called, uses gene-silencing technology from potatoes to make an apple that doesn’t brown. The company has applied for approval of the genetically modified trees that grow them.

The company says any apple can be turned into a nonbrowning Arctic Apple. The first two are the Golden Delicious and the Granny Smith, with Fuji and Gala in the pipeline.

The company website asserts that the modified apple addresses the "real economic costs for each link of the supply chain from tree to table," but apple growers are not necessarily happy about it. According to The New York Times, the U.S. Apple Association opposes it on the grounds that it could undermine the apple’s image as a healthy and natural food.

The Agriculture Department was expected on Friday to open a two-month comment period on the company’s application. But the comments are already rolling in across the Internet. Among them, The Atlantic’s Alexander Abad-Santos points out that the gene modification that made tomatoes uniformly beautiful also made them watery and flavorless, and admits, "There's just something creepy about an apple that doesn't brown."