Bringing reason to the biotechnology debate

We are pleased to have the opportunity to share an article (reproduced in full below) from a past issue of “The World Apple Report” by Dr. Desmond O’Rourke, founder and CEO of Belrose, Inc. Dr. O’Rourke’s company specializes in world apple market analysis, and if you would like to learn more about him, Belrose Inc. and “The World Apple Report” please visit their website, and to go directly to the original article, click here. First GMO Apple Stirs Emotions Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland, British Columbia, has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve a genetically modified apple, named
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The future is bright for antioxidants

Almost everyone who goes grocery shopping has seen a slew of antioxidant products spring up on the shelves over the past few years. Ten years ago, most people had never even heard of an “antioxidant”, but according to a recent report, “29 percent of U.S. adults are seeking out high-antioxidant groceries”. What’s more, this number is expected to climb even higher over the next ten years, as consumers gain further knowledge of the numerous potential health benefits of antioxidants, such as anti-cancer and immunity-boosting properties. While plenty of cereals, breads, nutritional supplements and even beauty care products now emphasize antioxidant
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Consumer feedback: The world is ready for Arctic® apples

Readers: As the newest member of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, I want to briefly introduce myself, as you’ll likely be hearing a lot from me going forward. My name is Joel, and I’m proud to join the team in a marketing and communications capacity. My roots in the apple industry are deep as I grew up in Summerland, and even worked on the Carter’s orchard while in high school and university. I’m very happy to be renewing that connection and look forward to keeping you up to date on the latest from OSF and Arctic® apples. According to AcuPOLL Research Inc. CEO
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Demystifying Arctic® apples

Readers: We are pleased to introduce you to a key member of OSF’s staff. Science team lead John Armstrong grew up spending summers in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, and returned there to live and to work for OSF in 1999. He earned his doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Manitoba in 1993. When not applying his impressive credentials in the lab, John is an avid outdoorsman. This is his first appearance here, but not his last! – Julia I’m often asked why we chose a nonbrowning apple as our first project. In fact, the food science community began
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Arctic Apples to participate in updated USDA biotechnology review process that adds public comment opportunities

The U.S. public now has more opportunities to get involved in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) review of organisms produced through biotechnology, as reported in the Federal Register on March 6. OSF’s Arctic® apples will participate in this expanded process when the public comment process regarding our nonbrowning apples begins later this year. (This new process updates the process we described in this previous blog post.) Under this updated process, the public will now have two opportunities to provide input to APHIS, as its staff considers requests to deregulate organisms produced through biotechnology.
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Key points we like to make about Arctic® apples

When we started OSF in 1996, we set out to improve apple consumption. As growers, we were disturbed by declining apple demand, and that apples were not competing well against other snack foods. We also understood how browning was keeping apples out of the fresh-cut produce business and that browning was a cost all along the value chain. Our decision to choose a biotechnology approach to inhibit apple browning was not taken lightly. Even way back then, we were listening to consumers and their concerns that biotech was scary and wasn’t offering any benefits for consumers. Based on this, we
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Arctic, conventional and organic apple trees can coexist

One of our website FAQs addresses the topic of co-existence: Will Arctic® apple trees be a threat to conventional or organic apple trees, by crossbreeding with trees growing near them? For a variety of reasons, the answer is “NO!” Admittedly, co-existence has been an issue for some genetically-modified row crops. However, apples are very different from row crops, so it is not accurate to draw comparisons. First, apple trees aren’t “weedy” – they don’t escape and grow in the wild like some other crops can. For millennia we apple growers have created new apple trees via vegetative propagation, not by planting
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Apple industry challenges will require biotechnology solutions

Eating an apple is already easy; growing apples, on the other hand, is not. First, there’s the weather – hail in the summer, killing cold in the winter. Second, apple trees and their fruits are also attacked by pests at every turn, including insects, rodents, wildlife, fungi, viruses and bacteria. Growers like me use cultural practices to help control some of those pests, such as pruning and training trees, mowing to limit cover and disrupting insects’ mating cycles with pheromones. Even then, it is virtually impossible to grow apples, conventional or organic, without the use of some type of pesticide
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How does a genetically engineered food get to the Canadian market?

In December 2011, OSF began the government review process that is required to take a new food product, like Arctic® Apples, to market in Canada. In Canada, two agencies share responsibility for regulating plants and plant foods created through biotechnology: Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada. CFIA ensures the safety of “plants with novel traits” for the environment and use as animal feed. Health Canada ensures that “novel foods” are safe for human consumption. Both agencies require substantial data to prove the similarity and safety of a genetically modified plant/plant food to its conventional counterpart. Previous reviews of
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How does a genetically engineered food get to the U.S. market?

In May 2010, OSF initiated the regulatory review process to allow our nonbrowning Arctic® Apples to be grown and sold in the U.S. market. In this post, we’ll present an overview of what’s entailed in that process, and how you can get involved. In our case, two U.S. agencies are involved in reviewing Arctic® Apple trees and fruit: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for ensuring that genetically modified (GM) plants don’t pose a pest or disease threat. Its review and approval is mandatory before a GM plant can be grown in the United States. To initiate USDA’s
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