“Simple” might not be the first word you’d associate with biotechnology. But, it fits when it comes to the precise science behind Arctic® apples!
Compared to conventional breeding, which has much less predictable results, Arctic® apples are quite simple indeed. Think about the genetic traits we pass on to our children. Perhaps you’d be thrilled if your kids inherited your blue eyes, but not so much if they get your big ears. Well, it often comes down to luck, and just as you can’t choose which traits your children inherit, it’s the same with fruit breeding. You might get a low-browning apple, but with it you may also get greater disease susceptibility or less desirable eating quality.
Is conventional breeding worth the trouble? In many instances, of course! There are plenty of fine plant-breeding programs, and many popular varieties that are the result of conventional
development. Creating new varieties is a very long process, and while it’s accomplished with a great deal of understanding about the parental lines being used, it’s simply not as precise as biotechnology.
The process we use, RNA interference (RNAi), is precise; we know exactly where in the apple’s DNA sequence we made a change and what change we made! In essence, what we do is replace a small section of genetic code (think the equivalent of a few feet of rail track in a cross-country railway) with a nearly identical section.
Do we use other science tools to facilitate this switch? Absolutely, we’ve described them in both basic terms and in more detail in our publicly-available petition. These tools do not affect the fruit itself in any way, though. There are zero novel proteins in Arctic® apples and no meaningful differences other than the reduced expression of polyphenol oxidase, the enzyme responsible for browning.
Just to be sure, we even sequenced the full genome (all 750 MILLION base pairs!) of our Arctic® apples. We found exactly what we knew we would – there are no unintended changes in Arctic® apples because they’re just another apple, with the important benefit of not browning when bitten, sliced or bruised!