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USDA Approves ‘Untested, Inherently Risky’ GMO Apple

Katherine Paul | Commondreams

We risk being exposed to an even greater number of pesticides, just so we can have apples that never turn brown. (Photo: [Greg]/flickr/cc)

We risk being exposed to an even greater number of pesticides, just so we can have apples that never turn brown. (Photo: [Greg]/flickr/cc)

On Friday, February 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the first genetically engineered apple, despite hundreds of thousands of petitions asking the USDA to reject it.According an article in Politico, the USDA said the GMO apple “doesn’t pose any harm to other plants or pests.”

Great. But what about potential harm to the humans who consume them?

The Arctic Apple (Golden Delicious and Granny varieties), developed by Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruit, shockingly doesn’t require approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA). The FDA will merely conduct a “voluntary review” before, presumably, rubber-stamping the apple for use in restaurants, institutions (including schools and hospitals) and grocery stores—with no long- (or even short-) term safety testing for its potential impact on human health.

Here’s why that should concern every consumer out there, especially parents of young children.

In April 2013, we interviewed scientists about the genetic engineering technology used to create the Arctic Apple, whose only claim to fame is that it doesn’t turn brown when sliced. The benefit to consumers? Being able to eat apples without having any sense of how old they are?

Here’s what we learned about the technology, called RNA interference, or double strand RNA (dsRNA), from Professor Jack Heinemann (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Sarah Agapito-Tenfen (from Santa Catarina University in Brazil) and Judy Carman (Flinders University in South Australia), all of whom said that dsRNA manipulation is untested, and therefore inherently risky:

Given that the dsRNA from our food, and presumably the Frankenapple, will enter the bloodstream and cells of consumers, safety research should be done BEFORE this GMO apple is put on the grocery shelf to prove that the dsRNA that enters consumers' bodies will not harm them. To date, no such research has been reported, so the Frankenapple is flying in the dark.

On the contrary, recent research has shown that dsRNAs can transfer from plants to humans and other animals through food. The biotech industry has always claimed that genetically engineered DNA or RNA is destroyed by human digestion, eliminating the danger of these mutant organisms damaging human genes or human health. But many biotech scientists say otherwise. They point to evidence that the dsRNA present in food survive digestion in the stomach and intestines and actually enter the bloodstream and tissues of the body, where it can influence the functioning of the eater's cells.

The scientists also pointed out that GMO apples will likely lead to even greater use of pesticides, on a product that (unless it’s organic) already tests positive for 42 pesticides, according to the Pesticide Action Network’s analysis of the most recent USDA data.

Here’s why. Turns out the chemical compound that is shut off in the engineered fruit through RNA manipulation, in order to make it not oxidize or brown, is a chemical compound that also fights off plant pests. What happens when the apple’s ability to fend off insects is compromised? Growers will need to spray greater amounts. Those pesticides will eventually find their way into our bodies, either because we ingested the fruit, or breathed the air or drank the water where the pesticides were sprayed.

So the upshot of Friday’s USDA approval of the Arctic GMO Apple?

As OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins told a reporter at Reuters, consumers will once again be guinea pigs for the biotech industry’s untested, potentially dangerous technology. And we risk being exposed to an even greater number of pesticides.

Just so we can have apples that never turn brown.

Parents should be especially concerned, as GMO apples will most likely be sold to restaurants and institutions—there will be no way to know if your child is consuming them except to avoid anything containing apples. And if the Arctic Apple varieties show up in grocery stores, where they will be unlabeled unless we pass a federal mandatory GMO labeling law, the only way to avoid them will be to buy certified organic.

All the more reason to add your voice to the millions who have already asked Congress to pass a mandatory GMO labeling law. Take Action here.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

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27 Reader Comments

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  1.' mark says:

    Gotta create more cancer patients for big pharma and the fda to hell with the human race were just cattle.

  2.' Gloria Cruz says:

    It imperative that the we the people know what we are consuming, it’s not right for corporations to do whatever they want for profit and disregard people’s health

  3.' Debbie Demeanour says:

    Interesting – Russia vans GM food & America appears to be embracing it !! WTF??!

  4.' Debbie Demeanour says:


  5.' Lisa Holcomb says:

    The uses doesn’t care about us. It’s just another way to keep us Americans sick so they can make more money from us. Duchess!

  6.' Michael Christian says:

    An apple a day will keep the doctor away. Monsanto says “We will fix that”

  7.' Lisa Holcomb says:


  8.' Crystal Simonton-Davis says:

    Friday the 13th, no doubt.

  9.' Revolution de Mind says:

    Nice thanks :

  10.' David Bailey says:

    an apple from us hell

  11.' Layla Wafiyyah says:

    Great. Friday the thirteenth, huh? Our biggest nightmare…

  12.' Jim Burnett Sr. says:

    Act to prevent GMO apples!!!!

  13.' Rick Es says:

    People’s input no longer effects government decisions its all about lobbying with money. Remember this come election time. Three choices on the ballot choose #3.

  14.' Madonna Guzzardo says:

    Money money money overrules health once again

  15.' Joanne G. Mann says:

    What idiots.

  16.' Jessica Potter says:

    Simple solution: buy organic. Period.

  17.' Karyn Stark says:

    I just saw these in the grocery store yesterday… front and center. Glad I didn’t buy them now.

  18.' Sally Savage says:

    Go organic

  19.' Shannon McCall Pendergrass says:

    Surprised, really? Hahahahshaha

  20.' Dlav Gaucher says:

    Get rid of gmos ..its not natural food

  21.' Dan Snoek says:

    doesnt pose any problem to them because they are smart enough not to EAT them !!!!

  22.' mark says:

    A nationwide boycott by the American people will bring that to a screeching halt use their tactics it’s all about money.

  23.' Anthony Andrade says:

    Everybody if your in the Sacramento valley area or Stockton and Bay Area check out its organic delivery .com farm fresh produce delivered to your door step 3 days from harvested !!!!! Tell me Anthony sent you

  24.' Ronnie Proudfoot says:

    It’s fraud but worse cause it’s our health at risk.. GMO is like having your own printing press or making illigal knock off IPhones or coach bags or CD.. Why the double standard? One pays money to pass laws and the other cant.

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