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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