The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) has denounced the Canadian government’s decision to approve the first-ever genetically modified (GM) apple.
“Our government is not listening to Canadians,” said Lucy Sharratt of CBAN. “Fruit growers had asked the government not to approve this GM apple and polls show that a majority of consumers don’t want it on grocery store shelves.”
The GM apple is genetically engineered not to turn brown after being cut. If it gets onto the market, it would be only the second GM fruit sold anywhere in the world, after a Hawaiian-grown papaya, and it would be the first GM fruit to be grown in Canada.
“The GM apple will mislead consumers because it will look fresh even when its not,” said Teresa Lynne of the CBAN member group, Society for a GE Free BC, “The GM apple threatens the reputation of apples as fresh, wholesome food. We don’t need it.”
A 2012 survey commissioned by the BC Fruit Growers’ Association and the Federation of Quebec Apple Growers showed that 69% of Canadians didn’t want it approved. Growers are concerned that the GM apple will negatively affect the entire market for apples.
“Growers are right to worry that without clear labelling many consumers will buy fewer apples just to avoid this GM apple,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec Network Vigilance OGM, a CBAN member group. “We need our grocery stores to step in to protect the consumer interest and the apple industry by keeping their doors closed to this GM apple.”
The GM apple will not be labeled as genetically modified though the company says that fresh GM apples would have a sticker bearing the company’s trademark “Arctic Apple”. The company promises a similar logo on food products that have ingredients from the GM apple but it’s not clear how this would be implemented or enforced. Sliced GM apples used by the food service industry are unlikely to be labelled.
The US government has also decided to allow commercialization of the GM apple.