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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Apple history is full of science innovations (part 1 of 2)

While Arctic® Apples may be the first apple to seek market access that’s been genetically transformed by the deliberate insertion of DNA, the apple industry is no stranger to modern science.  In fact, we’ve been cloning and otherwise genetically manipulating apples for centuries. This is the first of two posts on the topic of the science of apple growing. First, let’s define “biotechnology.” Biotechnology simply refers to man’s manipulation of living organisms to process food or to make other products. Historic examples of biotechnology at work include using yeast to brew beer and wine or to raise bread, using fungi
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Apple history is full of science innovations (part 2 of 2)

Remember your high school science lesson about Friar Gregor Mendel’s (see picture) work in the mid 1800s to explain genetic inheritance? Well, the apple industry has been employing genetics to intentionally breed new varieties of apples for centuries, by fertilizing the blossoms of one variety of tree with pollen from another variety of tree.  Each such “cross” results in a genetically different variety of apple. Many of today’s popular varieties including Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala all resulted from industry breeding programs. Cross breeding is a highly laborious breeding method, especially when the goal is an apple with a specific desired
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How’d we “make” a nonbrowning apple?

When my friends find out about my work with Arctic® Apples, invariably one of the first questions they ask is: How’d we do that? That is, how’d we “make” a nonbrowning apple? Here’s what I tell them: First, a quick biochemistry lesson.  When the cell of a typical apple is ruptured – for example, by biting, slicing or bruising – polyphenol oxidase (PPO) found in one part of the cell mixes with polyphenolics found in another part of the cell. (PPO is a plant enzyme. Polyphenolics are one of the many types of chemical substrates that serve various purposes, including
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Arctic apples’ innovation born of a real need

Two of the questions I’m asked the most are why I formed Okanagan Specialty Fruits, and why I chose a nonbrowning apple as our first project. The answers to those questions converge. So how does an apple grower get interested in biotechnology? First, apple growing can be a tough business; apples and apple trees are threatened by numerous pests and diseases. For example, on my farm in British Columbia, we constantly battle insects such as aphids, and diseases such as apple scab and mildew. I believe that biotechnology can help growers like me better protect our trees and fruit, with
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Meet OSF Founders Neal and Louisa Carter

What does a biotechnology innovator look like, exactly? In the case of our company, he looks like, well, an apple grower. Pictured: OSF Founders Louisa and Neal CarterOkanagan Specialty Fruits was founded by apple and cherry growers Neal and Louisa Carter in 1996. They grow and pack their fruit in Canada’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Spend some time talking to Neal, and it becomes very clear that he has a broad worldview gained while working as a bioresource engineer. For nearly 30 years he has worked with numerous crops around the globe, ranging from maize to mango, from growing to harvesting,
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You’ll be able to enjoy Arctic® apples with confidence

We invite you to enjoy Arctic® apples with great confidence (when they do arrive at market). By then, Arctic® apples will be one of the most studied foods of all time. And we are planning to label Arctic® apples for added consumer transparency. No overnight success Arctic® apples have been in development since 1997, when our science team began searching for a genetic solution to apples’ enzymatic browning problem. Our test orchards were planted in 2003 to 2005, allowing plenty of time to observe and evaluate both the trees and their fruit. By the time Arctic® apples arrive at market, they
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Growing Arctic® apples is cutting-edge work

Okanagan Specialty Fruits is currently awaiting U.S. government approval to begin growing and selling Arctic® apples. In preparation, we are seeking cutting-edge growers and other business partners who share our vision of the clear possibilities of nonbrowning Arctic apples. Meet grower and Okanagan Specialty Fruits founder Neal Carter Neal Carter, an apple grower himself, founded Okanagan Specialty Fruits in 1996 with a vision: Marry the best of science and nature to revitalize consumers’ interest in apples and other tree fruits, to benefit both consumers and producers. Here, he talks about that vision in more detail.       Arctic apple videos Introduction What motivated a grower to found Okanagan
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Eat more apples with Arctic®

We all know we need to eat more fruits and veggies for our better health – and apples are both nutritious and delicious. You can add more apples to your diet easily with Arctic® apples, perfect for your busy lifestyle. Convenient and healthy – the perfect combo! Whole apples are already highly portable, so nonbrowning Arctic® apples are super-portable. You will notice: In the car: Arctic apples won’t mind when you dash off on errands between bites. At the office: Go ahead and take that phone call, Arctic apples will wait patiently. At school: Arctic apples can handle a little
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