The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the USDA’s final comment period on Arctic® apples came last month, so what’s next? In a word, deregulation!
Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, it will still take the USDA at least a couple months to finalize their EA (Environmental Assessment) and prepare a FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) for Arctic apples.
As the USDA prepares their final paper work, they will be reviewing around 5,000 submissions received between Nov. 8th and Jan. 30th regarding their EA and PPRA (Plant Pest Risk Assessment) of Arctic apples. Though predictable, many submitted remarks fell under a theme of misguided fear of all GMOs. However,
That said, there are two unwarranted concerns often raised that generate much unnecessary apprehension.
- “Arctic apples will have a negative impact on domestic commerce” – APHIS did examine potential market impact of Arctic apples and concluded that nonbrowning apples could offer growers numerous benefits, specifically stating their deregulation “is not expected to adversely impact domestic commerce” and could even “enhance US competitiveness in global markets”. Furthermore, in our own market research spanning the last 5 years, we have consistently learned that ~60% of consumers who experience Arctic apples are interested in purchasing them.
- “Arctic apples will cross-pollinate with other orchards” – This myth is sometimes perpetuated by those who should know better, as basic apple biology shows that it is untrue. We’ve previously addressed in detail that even if Arctic pollen did fertilize a conventional or organic bloom, the resulting fruit would not be affected.
Despite this confounding rhetoric, many weighed in voicing support of the science demonstrating Arctic apples safety and value. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- “…an important advancement for agriculture. The non browning apple…(is) proven safe and will add to the sustainability of apples in our food system by reducing waste” – President of the world’s largest permanent crop nursery & 5th generation family farmer
- Arctic apples will “increase the market for producers and processors and benefit consumers with increased consumption opportunities” – Family farmer & Executive Director of Growers for Biotechnology
- “These apples offer no novel food or feed safety risks and have no biological basis for becoming weedy or a plant pest” – University of Georgia Professor
- “While a number of comments…suggest that production of the Arctic Apple would impact surrounding orchards, there is no evidence to support this claim” – Director/Professor at UC Davis