A brand new genetically engineered apple will hit store shelves this fall, and Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Foods will not label its controversial new product!
Neal Carter, the founder of Okanagan Specialty Foods, recently revealed his new GMO apples at a presentation in San Francisco. They unnatural apples were engineered using the CRISPR technique.
CRISPR technique is a new type of genetic engineering. In this case, stops the apple from turning brown as a natural, organic one would. This technology allows for a longer shelf life – hence more profits for the companies who use them.
Even though more than 90 percent of American citizens state that they want mandatory GMO labeling according to national polls, the absence of support from the government has led to the situation that we see today. GMO labels will not be present on these new apples. And, as usual, the consumer will have little idea as to what type of apple they are eating.
The new apples will appear in hundreds of stores in California and the Midwest. But they will not be labeled due to the decision from Okanagan’s management. The company insists that the product was engineered to benefit consumers in the form of “convenience.” However, critics argue that the apples only carry benefits for food companies as they will sit on shelves long past their natural expiration date.
Even after many petition signatures against the new apples, the fruit was approved by the FDA and will not be labeled due to a bill signed by the Obama administration in 2016 enabling companies to put QR codes instead of clear text labels on the food saying that it is GMO.
“We didn’t want to put ‘GMO’ and a skull and crossbones on the package,” told Carter during a presentation in San Francisco when asked why his company chose against labeling the GMO apples.
“I don’t think we’re hiding behind the fact that we use that technique,” Carter also announced in January this year, according to CBCNews, that “We don’t want to demonize the product by putting a big GMO sticker on it.”
In 1994, Norman Braksick, the president of the Asgorw Seed Company (a subsidiary of Monsanto) said: “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
Over 20 years have passed, and Americans still don’t have GMO labeling on their food products. Also, Americans continue to wonder about the long-term consequences of these lab-created food crops, which are banned in more than 30 countries globally.
New Unlabeled CRISPR GMO Technology Raises Concerns
Some people see the non-labeling of these GMO foods as a serious issue, because of new studies coming up and also the lack of long-term safety testing. Genetically modified studies are capped at just 90 days, and there are some questions about the industry’s ties with the U.S. government leading to GMOs’ introduction and proliferation.
In June 2017 a study from Columbia University pointing that the CRISPR genetic engineering process can cause “hundreds of unintended gene mutations” within the organism, shocking researchers, who called for a closer look.
It is not known how it can affect humans’ health in the long-run and also gene edited CRISPR foods like the new GMO apples have similar issues. The study raised concern in the scientific community members who believe the technology should be better regulated.
At the moment, the industry wants to release CRISPR techniques from being classified as genetically modified.
The GMO-Free USA and The Non-GMO Report point out that non-browning apples grown and hybridized in the field are already available (Opal apples).
Okanagan Specialty Foods sold for $41 million to the American Biotech company Intrexonin 2015. They remain unmoved and ready to launch the apples in 400 stores this fall. Of course, this leaves consumers in the dark when it comes to eating GMO “gene silenced” non-browning apples or natural ones.
Many busy consumers will probably purchase the new apples without knowing their exact origin. “We see this as less about genetic modification and more about convenience,” Carter stated when demonstrating the advantages of the new GMO apple. The apples will go on sale in 10 oz. pre-sliced bags with the Arctic logo on them.
But for consumers who are suspicious of unlabeled GMO food, Carter’s quote on GMO labeling may remind them of another controversial statement:
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring it’s safety is the FDA’s job,” said Monsanto director of corporate communications Phil Angell as quoted by Michael Pollan in the New York Times in 1998.