Okanagan orchardists continue to express concerns about genetically modified organisms.
The B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association has asked the federal government for an immediate moratorium on the genetically modified apple, known under the trademark Arctic apple.
“There is potential market damage caused to apple markets if this GM apple is approved. Indeed, it seems the damage is occurring even while the apple is in the regulatory process and a decision on its approval is still pending,” said Jeet Dukhia, BCFGA president and a Vernon grower.
“The public thinks of apples as a pure, natural, healthy and nutritional fruit. GM apples are a risk to our market image.”
The BCFGA is opposed to the introduction of the GM apple, with this position endorsed by its delegates at its annual convention.
The Canadian Horticulture Council’s apple working group, a national committee of representatives from each apple growing province, is also in favour of a moratorium on the introduction of the Arctic apple.
Dukhia says the public is skeptical about GM food according to a 2012 national survey, which the BCFGA completed in partnership with the Quebec Apple Producers Association.
The survey showed that 69 per cent of Canadians are not in favour of GM food and 91 per cent said GM labelling should be mandatory.
“If 76 per cent of people say the Canadian government has not provided adequate information to the public on GM foods, how can the government then approve these products for introduction to an unprepared marketplace?” said Dukhia.
“This places the entire apple market at risk, and we have asked that the government place an immediate, pre-emptive moratorium on the on this apple before our markets suffer.”
The Arctic apple, which would not brown when cut, has been developed by Summerland-based Okanagan Speciality Fruits.
“The regulatory review processes in both Canada and the U.S. are extremely rigorous and rely on evidence-based assessment,” said president Neal Carter.
“Arctic apples are the most tested apple in the world and have proven to be just as safe and healthful as other apples, so consumers should have the opportunity to decide for themselves.”