USDA Deregulates Genetically Engineered, Browning-resistant "Arctic" Apple

Statement of CSPI Biotechnology Director Gregory Jaffe

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Few fruits have undergone more genetic selection, hybridization, and other tinkering over the centuries than the apple. To create the new Arctic apple, scientists have tinkered a step further and spliced in some extra of the apple's own genetic material, which causes it to turn brown less quickly when its interior is exposed to the air. USDA’s decision to deregulate the product means that the agency is convinced it presents no harm to the environment.

Unlike most of the commercially approved genetically engineered crops, which provide benefits primarily to farmers, this product provides a modest benefit to consumers. It might make sense to use such a product for pre-sliced apple slices or in fruit salad or salad bars.

The developer still will complete its safety review at the Food and Drug Administration--a voluntary process that should be mandatory. But there’s no indication that this new apple presents an environmental concern, and it might demonstrate to consumers how, in time, other new products could provide even more impressive benefits, including to improve health. 

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).