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GMO Apple Looks To USDA For Approval

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From the land that ends every sentence with the phrase eh, comes a new threat to eating fresh apples. Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland, British Columbia has petitioned the USDA to allow it to market a genetically modified apple that will not brown once the apple has been sliced.  The Canadian firm feels that their GMO apple will spur sales of apples into the snack aisle and in its use in fresh salads.  Fortunately U.S. apple growers say it’s too soon to know whether they’d be interested in the apple: They need to resolve questions about the apple’s quality, the cost of planting and, most importantly, whether people would buy it.  According to Todd Fryhover, president of the apple commission in Washington State, which produces half of the apples consumed in the U.S., “Genetically modified – that’s a bad word in our industry.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has considered about 100 petitions for genetically engineered or modified crops. Those that have drawn the most attention have been engineered to withstand certain weed killers, but among those the agency has approved are tomatoes altered to ripen more slowly – the first genetically modified crop approved in the U.S. in 1992 – and plums that resist a specific virus. This is the first petition for apples.  The USDA’s biotechnology regulations are designed to ensure that genetically modified crops are just as safe for agriculture and the environment as traditionally bred crop varieties, spokesman R. Andre Bell said in a statement. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service works with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, depending on the product, to ensure safety.   The approval process can take years, and it’s not clear the apples will be accepted even if they pass government inspection.

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