Arctic apples: How stoked should we be about this Frankenfood?

With new concepts in food engineering, Neha Lalchandani brings Arctic apples in the limelight.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved genetically engineered ‘Arctic apples’ created by scientists at the Okanagan Specialty Fruits company in British Columbia.

Either you are revolted to have come across another case of genetically modified produce or perhaps you are wondering if this is some sort of miracle apple that’s the new jewel in the crown.

Here’s the revelation…

An apple that does not brown… truly. It will not turn brown from bruising, cutting or biting- not in minutes, hours or days.

Remember the times when mum would soak apples in salt or lemon water… only because we wouldn’t eat apples that were brown? Now that ‘problem’, or in other words pickiness, should cease.

The Arctic apple has been engineered through gene silencing to reduce the expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzymes responsible for browning the apple flesh after it is cut. For many, browning can sometimes destroy the image (and appeal) of an apple.

The trademark apples have been aesthetically enhanced for cosmetic purposes which comes at a time when the American farmer industry are reporting a decline in apple consumption. This interesting, non-browning apple might just have a much-needed competitive advantage.

However, to what extent is this ‘good’, or in scientific terms, safe?

With the trait of never going brown, unwanted controversies might spiral and perhaps even tarnish the apple’s image as a traditionally healthy product.

Furthermore, it can make a lot of people nervous and question the actual shelf life indicator of the fruit that people enjoy eating when they’re at their freshest. How will we be able to know when apples have gone bad if they’re no longer turning brown?

As we know, there has always been a great debate in relation to GMO’s which continues to this day. No doubt, like every other development, it has its pros and cons.

While many of us are against the genetic modification of food for the possible harmful health ramifications that might arise, there is another part of the world that sees this as a necessity to feed the global growing population.

It can be acceptable to a certain extent, but when it reaches a point where it can possibly mask the properties of spoilt food, then reconsideration should most definitely come into action.

And with all the brains and science behind it, are people willing to shell out extra for these apples?

We’ll be able to purchase Arctic apples in stores within the next few years so we’ve got some time to mull it over. But remember to be smarter than Snow White and not bite into an apple without being sure that it’s good for you.

 

Image: Neha Lalchandani

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