Poor apples. Perfectly good ones are thrown away or passed over entirely because they are brown or bruised. A study out of the U.K. several years ago claimed that 4.4 million apples are thrown away every day. But now apples that are genetically modified not to brown are moving closer to becoming a reality on American grocery store shelves. All they need are approval from the USDA.
So-called “Arctic Apples,” developed by Canadian-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits, have been more than a decade in the making. The company states that the anti-browning effect comes from shutting off one of the apple’s enzyme. Though the fruit is still not available commercially anywhere, if approved, Americans could soon see Golden Delicious and Granny Smith varieties for sale next year.
As cool as the product might sound to the scientifically-inclined, the apple has garnered plenty of controversy. Some apple growers worry such genetic tinkering could give the otherwise wholesome apple a bad reputation. Others continue to debate whether playing God with produce could have negative health or environmental repercussions. And some just wonder why we need non-browning fruit at all. “Sure the apple goes brown on an hors d’oeuvre plate but they’re no less healthy to eat,” Jim Baird, a Washington apple farmer who is against the Arctic apple, told the Wall Street Journal. If only Baird could convince more people to stop judging apples by their looks.
The WSJ presents no indication as to which way the USDA might rule, though there is no concrete evidence that Arctic apples are a cause for concern. In the meantime, we’ll just have to prevent apple browning the old-fashioned way—by eating them faster.