By Catherine Haug, April 30, 2016 (image, right, from Organic Consumers’ Association (4), used with permission)
A variety of GMO apple has been approved for a while now – the Arctic Apple in two varieties, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious (3); its DNA has been modified to keep it from turning brown once the apple is cut or sliced. You probably won’t see this in the produce section (at least not at first), but if you eat commercial products containing cooked apples, or prepped fresh fruit plates, you may be unwittingly eating this GMO apple.
It may sound harmless enough – at least it isn’t GMO to allow being heavily sprayed with insecticides – but it may actually be even worse than the pesticides.
This is because the ability of apples to turn brown when cut/sliced, is actually the apple’s immune system stepping up to the plate. Cutting an apple causes a series of enzyme reactions that produce a natural antiseptic, O-quinone, a natural antimicrobial substance that helps protect the apple from bacteria and fungi. As it does its job, the O-quinone is converted to melatonin that causes the exposed edges to turn brown. (1,2)
But the GMO apple suppresses one of the apple’s enzymes that produces the O-quinone, thus keeping it form turning brown, and, unfortunately, increasing the chance the apple can be infected with bacterial or fungal disease, which in turn can result in toxicity issues when the apple is consumed. (1,2)
Several orchards have been planted with this apple, but they are not yet bearing enough fruit for harvest. This means we have a couple more years before this GMO apple hits the market.
- HortScience August 2010 vol. 45 no. 8 1150-1154
- Mercola: articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/30/why-do-apples-turn-brown.aspx
- New York Times February 14, 2015
- Frankenfish image: organicconsumers.org/images/bytes/frankenfood-250.jpg