Demystifying Arctic® apples’ modern science tools

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
Read More

How we introduce the nonbrowning trait in Arctic® apples

While a doctorate in molecular biology is needed to fully understand how biotechnology can create new foods like our Arctic® apples, even the basics can be tough to grasp without a background in science. Indeed that’s one of the main reasons biotechnology remains controversial, despite the most reputable scientific bodies agreeing on its safety and benefits. Even so, we do our best to simply explain the key concepts of how we make apples “Arctic”: When Arctic® apples are growing in the orchard or are part of your lunch, they are essentially the same as their conventional counterparts until you bruise, bite or
Read More

Addressing common misconceptions of Arctic® orchards and fruit

During the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) public comment period on Arctic® Granny and Arctic® Golden apples, a number of re-occurring misconceptions arose which are addressed in this blog. Agricultural biotechnology, which consumers are self-admittedly uniformed about, is a complicated subject. When there’s a new product that utilizes this technology, myths and incorrect information commonly follow. Biotechnology is a polarizing topic for many and unfortunately, this has led to a vocal minority propagating erroneous statements that mislead the general public.  Perhaps the most widely spread myth is that Arctic® apple orchards will cross-pollinate with organic orchards, causing them to
Read More

A (Genetically-Modified) Apple a Day…

There has been significant media coverage on Arctic® Granny and Golden apples since the U.S. Department of Agriculture opened the 60-day comment period on OSF’s petition for deregulation July 13, 2012. Few of these articles are written by as well-credentialed authors as Henry Miller and Robert Wager, though.  Dr. Henry I. Miller, MS, MD served for fifteen years in the US Food and Drug Administration amongst numerous other positions relating to biotechnology and regulatory processes. Robert Wager has a BSc in microbiology, a master’s in biochemistry and has been heavily involved in educating the public on agricultural biotechnology for over
Read More

Exploring the marker gene used in Arctic® apples

As you can read about in our FAQ section, the process required to transform a conventional apple to an Arctic® variety necessitates the use of a marker gene that makes the plant tissue resistant to the antibiotic kanamycin. This process requires a doctorate in molecular biology to fully comprehend, so we turn to our head scientist John Armstrong, who just happens to have these credentials.  Should people worry that the insertion of our marker gene may add a new protein to Arctic® apples? The simple answer is no, as there are no proteins expressed in Arctic® apples that aren’t in conventional apples.
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More