Sorry. No, thanks. We'll take a little bruising and browning over the Arctic Apple--a genetically buffed super fruit designed to give you perfect-looking apple slices every single time. As The New York Times' Andrew Pollack reports, "Arctic Apples, which would first be available in the Golden Delicious and Granny Smith varieties, contain a synthetic gene that sharply reduces production of polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme responsible for the browning." He adds:
The gene does not come from another species. Rather, it contains DNA sequences from four of the apple’s own genes that govern production of polyphenol oxidase. Putting an extra copy of a gene into a plant can activate a self-defense mechanism known as RNA interference that shuts down both the extra copy and the endogenous gene.
Basically this apple could revolutionize the ailing apple industry, since Pollack notes that people only eat an average of 16 pounds of apples per year, down from 20 in the 1980s.
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But seriously, there's just something creepy about an apple that doesn't brown. It was just on June 28, that The New York Times Gina Kolata reported on how the gene tinkering that gave us uniformly red tomatoes also took away their flavor, giving us those watery, slovenly things that louse up our delicious burgers. And tastiness might not be the biggest problem for apples. "Some critics say the lack of browning could conceal problems with an apple that consumers may want to know about," writes Pollack, who cites Lucy Sharratt, an anti-genetic crop activist. "Is it a rotten apple that looks fresh?" Sharatt asked, noting that genetic tinkering was "designed to turn the apple into an industrialized product."
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As Pollack notes, the Agriculture Department is expected to commence with a public comment period of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which makes these apples, and its application for regulatory approval today.
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