Arctic apple approval gains chilly reception

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association is concerned about the federal government’s approval of genetically modified apples in Canada

The debate over genetically modified apples continues.

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association is concerned about the federal government’s approval of  genetically modified apples in Canada.

“We have not had any official notification from government, but the company that owns the Arctic apple is claiming that it is approved,” said Fred Steele, BCFGA president.

“The byword is, ‘to let the market decide’, but at present there is no distinction in the marketplace between genetically modified and conventional foods. The market should have a reference point to make a choice and to protect conventional producers from possible harm.”

Steele added that approval of the Arctic apple could impact the organic sector.

“The government needs to ensure consumers can make good decisions and, if there is to be choice on purchasing genetically modified foods, then the choice should be apparent,” he said.

The Arctic Granny Smith and golden delicious are genetically engineered to modify the gene which controls apple browning.

“Other apples are available which are naturally slow to oxidise, or brown, when cut,” said Steele.

The creator of Arctic apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, is pleased with Ottawa’s decision.

“Arctic apples’ approval was made official earlier when the two bodies reviewing our apples, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada, notified OSF that their reviews are complete,” states OSF on the company website.

“Over the next couple years, we will be working hard with our grower partners to get as many Arctic trees in the ground as we can. With the support of our friends in the apple industry, and eager consumers alike, we hope to have small, test-market quantities of fruit available starting in late 2016, with greater availability each year thereafter.”

In a letter to OSF, the CFIA concludes that Arctic apples, “are as safe and nutritious as traditional apple varieties.”