Arctic® apples have been studied for over a decade and have the same nutrition and composition as their conventional counterparts – so why do GMO opponents say they contain dangerous viruses, contribute antibiotic resistance, and spread bacteria? The simple answer is that they’re lying to promote fear, though to be more precise, they’re using small pieces of partial truths and intentionally exaggerating or implying danger where there isn’t any.
While we use apple genes to silence apple genes, the apple plantlets we introduce the nonbrowning trait into need a bit of help knowing what to do with these genes. We’ve previously highlighted some of the modern science tools that assist with this process but here we focus more directly on why they aren’t even the slightest bit dangerous:
- Transfer Mechanism – Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a naturally occurring bacterium that sometimes causes galls in plants – you’ve seen them on trees. It’s commonly used in genetic engineering because it helps us transfer the genes that silence the browning enzyme. It is NOT present in Arctic® fruit.
- Promoter – Plants need instructions to read certain genes, and promoters tell the plant where the beginning of those instructions is (like a capital letter indicates the start of a sentence). We use a small fraction of the genes (the promoter element) of the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) to “promote” or initiate the insertion of the nonbrowning apple genes. Though anything with the word “virus” may sound concerning, even complete versions of CaMV aren’t dangerous and are regularly consumed on vegetables like (as you might guess) cauliflower.
- Marker Gene – To make sure we’ve successfully introduced the nonbrowning trait, we use a marker gene (nptII) that makes them resistant to the antibiotic kanamycin. Kanamycin resistance is found in every inch of soil on the planet and is not dangerous to humans. Even then, there’s no nptII protein in Arctic® apples – just the leaf tissue!
Even so, those with anti-GMO agendas will continue to spread misinformation about Arctic® apples and other biotech crops using whatever language creates the most fear. You don’t have to take our word for it when it comes to the safety of the modern science tools we use in biotechnology – the world’s leading scientific experts all speak to the safety of approved biotech crops!