USDA approved the sale of genetically modified (GM) apples that “stay fresh” up to three weeks after being sliced or bruised, which are expected to enter stores by March. This comes as an answer addressing the major problem of wasting apples, with nearly 40% of them being discarded due to superficial bruising and browning.
Before diving deep into this one, it should be noted that a heated debate is still surrounding GM food to say the least. Both sides of the argument have their stance on the matter, however, the fact remains that GMs benefit our economy and environment when regulated with diligence. While GM food products are already fairly adopted in the US, they remain strongly regulated and limited in the European union.
As of 2017, three additional GM variations of popular apple sorts, named Arctic Apples, produced by Okangan Specialty Foods have been approved for sale in the US. The company uses gene silencing technology to suppress polyphenol oxidase (PPO), a protein responsible for apples turning brown under oxidative stress. Although PPO has an important protective function in many plants like tomato, it´s role in apples is limited and rather represents a much bigger burden to the economy.
The producers of Arctic Apples warn that up to 40% of all apples produced globally get discarded due to browning. In addition, costs of processing pre-cut apples to prevent them from browning add up to additional 35% of the total production costs. It is estimated that approximately five hundred 20 kg cases of Arctic apples will hit the shelves in the next two months.
Apples are considered one of the healthiest fruits and are frequently recommended for weight loss, particularly due to their relatively low-carbohydrate and high-fiber content. Promoting healthy foods and bringing them closer to the consumers is particularly important at this time, when we are facing a major obesity epidemic.
See the difference between new apples and their traditional counterparts:
By Luka Zupančič, MSc, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Vienna