CHICAGO - Neal Carter has big plans for the non-browning apple.
The CEO of Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Summerland, British Columbia, is awaiting regulatory approval of the genetically modified Arctic® Apple, which doesn’t turn brown after being cut or sliced. The company is starting with Granny and Golden apples and plans to branch out into eight to ten other varieties after United States regulators sign off, he said.
“We can make any variety of apple non-browning,” he said in an interview during the BIO 2013 International Convention.
Carter says he hopes to commercialize the Arctic® Apple in the fall of 2015 in both retail and foodservice channels. He said that he expects to have an international market as well and has had expressions of interest from people in the United Kingdom, South Africa and China.
In the pipeline, he said, are traits that could deal with problems such as fire blight, a major disease of apples that is currently treated with antibiotic sprays, in both conventional and organic production.
Carter predicts that genetic engineering in plants, now found mainly in commodity crops, will soon spread into specialty crops - fruits and vegetables.
“The grocers are expecting it to happen,” he said.
European scientists and food safety experts drove the final nail in the coffin on the controversial Séralini rat study this week, finding that it finding that it “does not meet acceptable scientific standards” and raises no valid questions about the safety of genetically modified corn.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) presented a final statement on Wednesday that reaffirmed its initial assessment that “the authors’ conclusions cannot be regarded as scientifically sound because of inadequacies in the design, reporting and analysis of the study as outlined in the paper.”
EFSA noted the emergence of a broad European consensus, as each of the six assessments conducted independently by member states had determined that Séralini’s conclusions regarding the safety of GM corn were not supported by the data presented in the study. Read more.
A widely-criticized study by a French team claiming that genetically modified corn caused laboratory rats to develop tumors has been thoroughly rebutted by an agency of the German government, which said the “study” is full of holes and reaches conclusions that are not supported by the data, which the agency said was inadequate and badly presented.
“The study shows both shortcomings in study design and in the presentation of the collected data,” said Professor Dr. Reiner Wittkowski, vice president of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). The agency advises the German federal government and state governments on questions of food, chemical and product safety. “This means that the conclusions drawn by the authors are not supported by the available data,” Wittkowski said. READ MORE »
While those who support California’s Proposition 37 assert that labeling GM foods is necessary to provide clarification to consumers, implementing such a measure would ultimately be detrimental to consumers and food producers alike, according to a report by agricultural economists at the University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.
The authors’ findings, published in the foundation’s bi-monthly magazine ARE Update, indicate that the proposed legislation would lead to consumer confusion, increased prices for many food items and less choice overall in stores.
The paper also draws attention to contradictions in the proposed labeling legislation. “If Prop 37 is approved, then consumers in California could face less choice and confusing information at their food markets despite claims that Prop 37 would result in more choice and better information,” it states. Read more.
As a testament to the importance of a science-based policymaking, the United States Senate overwhelmingly rejected an amendment this week offered by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have allowed states to require labeling on foods containing genetically modified (GM ) ingredients.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) pointed out the measure would have created obstacles to ag biotech innovations and compromised the integrity of the U.S. regulatory process, which continues to recognize there is no scientific justification for special labeling of GM foods.
“The Senate’s action confirms that the path to awareness about biotechnology is not through changes to the U.S. government’s food labeling policy, which requires labeling to provide consumers with information about health, safety or nutrition,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, Vice President of Food & Agriculture, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
With strong bipartisan support, the Senate also voted to reauthorize the Farm Bill, including a measure that would support the construction of new biorefineries with the potential of opening emerging agricultural markets and creating new employment opportunities across the U.S.