Despite hundreds of thousands of petition signatures against it, the USDA approved the first ever genetically modified apple in February, much to the delight of the Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits and to the dismay of consumers and activists.
The so-called “Arctic” apple was created for its ability to not turn brown after being sliced, but this trait is also one of the biggest reasons why so many people are seeking to avoid it.
Okanagan believes that the apple will help the food industry, but already major food companies like Gerber and even McDonald’s have rejected the GMO apples, and many others are expected to follow due to consumer pressure.
Beyond the hesitation of consumers to eat the new GMO apple, there is also the nagging question of whether it is actually safe to consume or not, especially long-term.
As talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz recently pointed out in a wide-ranging segment on GMO apples (see below to watch it), the jury is still out on whether the apples pose health risks, and the government organizations entrusted with our health still don’t seem to mind.
Dr. Oz: We’re All a Part of the GMO “Science Experiment”
“Would you buy this apple if I told you it wouldn’t brown if you cut into it or took a bite? Would you buy this apple if I told you it was genetically modified to not turn brown?” Oz asks, kicking off the show. “Well, a lot of people are banking on your answer…”
If the results of Oz’s own poll are any indication, that answer is a resounding “No,” with 84% of respondents saying that they would not eat the non-browning apple.
Following the poll, Oz invited the apple’s creator Neal Carter on to explain his controversial new product, as well as Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumer’s Union to explain his reservations.
“Are you worried about an anti-GMO backlash?” Oz asks Carter. “Well, we’d be pretty naive if we weren’t,” he responds, calling the anti-GMO movement a “small, vocal segment.”
“Any time folks get to experience the apple, they love it,” he added.
Hansen, whose Consumer Reports organization has been a strong advocate for GMO labeling and more independent testing, later outlined his concerns.
He made reference to the apple’s use of RNA interference technology that a team of researchers recently called “inherently risky” and untested (see article).
Hansen also said the USDA ignored an EPA scientific review’s questions about the latter issue and approve the apple anyway.
As this Organic Consumers’ Association pointed out, the apple will merely undergo a “voluntary review” from the FDA which means no long-term safety testing for its potential impact on human health.
That doesn’t sit well with Dr. Oz, who continued to make the case for mandatory labeling at minimum.
“I stand by my opinion all GMOs should be labeled so consumers can decide for themselves,” Oz said.
Carter noted that the apples will have a sticker on them so grocery store customers can tell. But many still wonder: if you’re eating them in a restaurant, packaged food or at an event, how can you possibly know the difference?
“We’re basically engaged in a bit of a science experiment,” Oz says. “For me this is always a big concern, we don’t know the harmful effects on our bodies.”
To see the whole segment, click on the picture below.