The gene-altered Arctic-brand apples are Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties that have been modified to resist browning when cut or bruised. Limited quantities could be brought to market as early as 2016.
The developer, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, is resisting calls to clearly label the apples as genetically altered, telling the New York Times "that labeling the fruit as genetically modified would only be 'demonizing' it."
Meanwhile the marketers of a naturally non-browning apple have already obtained certification of non-GMO status to distance the Opal apple from the Arctic varieties.
Growers are concerned that genetic manipulation of apples will tarnish the fruit's healthy image and will cause confusion, expense, and loss of sales.
However government review was limited by law to potential "plant-pest risk to agriculture or other plants in the United States," according to an FDA fact sheet.
A bit more from the Times and from Produce Retailer, an industry publication.
Resistance to oxidation occurs naturally in many apple varieties besides Opal, including Cortland, Envy, and Lady Alice.
Okay, here is the editorial.
I could probably write a lot more about the foregoing. For now I'll just admit that as an apple aficionado I do not like this development, but for esthetic rather than scientific reasons.
I wouldn't choose an Arctic Granny, an apple designed to mask damage and decay, over a real Granny Smith, but I would not fear to do so. These are just apples, okay? I'd eat one fresh off the tree.
In any case, the likely market for these is the processed-food industry.
Probably the introduction of GMO apples will roil the marketplace and destroy more value than it creates. Okanagan will profit at the expense of farmers.
This strikes me as both unfair and economically inefficient, but it is how the system sometimes works. Farmers face far-worse challenges.
I'm less philosophical about Okanagan's ongoing lobbying campaign to keep the GMO label off its product, lest informed consumers decide not to choose it.
That's offensive, among other things.
It's paternalistic and hypocritical and deserves to fail. If these apples depend on deception to win acceptance then I heartily hope they, and their backers, fail as well.