Mar 24, 2015 12:06 PM EDT
Genetically modified organisms are an extremely controversial issue, despite the majority of scientific bodies stating they are generally safe to consume. The United States FDA has continued that trend by recently approving several varieties of GM potatoes and apples, as reported on Physorg.
What the company Simplot is calling their Innate Potatoes, which are varieties genetically engineered to reduce bruising by 40%. In attempts to alleviate some of the public concern, these potatoes are not transgenic in the sense that any genes added are actually from other varieties of domesticated potatoes. Still the modifications were made in a lab and qualify them as GM, along with any negative press associated with that. Several large companies, including McDonald's, have already made statements saying that they will continue to use only non-GM potatoes.
While the potatoes were deemed as nutritious and safe as conventional potatoes, Simplot is also claiming additional health benefits to their GM varieties. They say their potatoes will contain 70% less of the compound acrylamide, which is produced when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. Although it is still undetermined whether this is an actual benefit, as the FDA has only found the compound carcinogenic in rodents so far.
The Arctic Apples on the other hand seem to be mired in slightly less controversy, although there won't be a major planting until 2017. The Arctic Apple website is quick to point out that these organisms are also not technically transgenic. All of the genes involved in modifying the plants were from other varieties of apples, to reduce the production of oxidizing enzymes. With those genes effectively silenced it greatly reduces the browning of apples once cut.
The company behind the apples is Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Their hope is to make bags of presliced apples a much more common and convenient snack food. Previously, browning had to be prevented by spraying sliced apples with antioxidants, which affected their taste.
CTV News also reports that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved both of these crops. This was following the approval of the US FDA, and makes sense since the Okanagan is a growing region in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It might be a little while before the apples hit store shelves, but the first varieties are modified Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.
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