After a limited release in the Midwest, a variety of non-browning apples will be arriving in select retailers across the United States this fall. Sold under the Arctic Apples brand, the first genetically modified apple variety has been engineered to resist browning after being sliced.
Genetic modifications have historically been aimed at benefiting farmers by improving resistance to pesticides or insects through transferring new DNA from another species into plants. The difference with Arctic Apples is they have been engineered within the genome of the same plant species.
The non-browning apples will be among the earliest offerings of genetically modified food specifically marketed to consumers. Research has found that the browning that occurs when the flesh of an apple is exposed to oxygen is one of the main reasons that people are not consuming more apples.
Advances made in gene silencing and editing techniques have helped create other genetically engineered products that are marketed to consumers. Simplot offers a bruise-resistant type of russet called the Innate potato. Del Monte has also engineered a pink pineapple designed to hold more antioxidants as a response to consumer demand.
New biotechnologies used in plant breeding are also more economically viable due to current federal regulations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration require fewer expensive tests, making it likely there will be more products like these engineered directly as a response to demand from consumers.
The Arctic Apples brand is offering three types of non-browning apples including Golden, Granny, and Fuji, which have all been approved for sale in the U.S. market. They will be offered in 10oz bags designed with convenience in mind. The apples will be available in a few dozen stores beginning in October and running through December, or until supplies sell out.