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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Say goodbye to brown apple slices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave America the OK on Feb. 13 to genetically modify apples. 

These first-ever modified apples, developed by Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits, don’t brown after they have been bruised or cut into.

The driving force behind the Arctic Granny Smith and the Arctic Golden Delicious apples is to increase apple consumption, said Neal Carter, the president of Okanagan.

“I’m very excited about this prospect because people are going to see more apples in more places,” he said.

The research process started in 1997, but it is still ongoing. Okanagan is currently working on two different strands of Gala apples and one strand of Fuji apples. Additionally, up to seven varieties of apples are being tested for the non-browning modification, he said.

After the Arctic apples have been cut, they can last 15 days or longer, Carter said. 

If the slices are rinsed under tap water and stored in the fridge, the apples won’t brown for weeks.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Kevin Folta, chairman of the UF Horticultural Sciences department.

The water and fertilizer can go a long way to producing more fruit, he said. And with fruit that’s visually appealing, he said, children are more likely to eat these apples.

However, he said not everyone shares his positive attitude toward genetically modified food, referring to activist groups and members of the public who he says are ill-informed about the benefits of genetically altered food.

“It’s unfortunate because they are very beneficial,” he said. “We can do lots of good things going forward.”

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[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 2/24/2015 under the headline “Genetically modified apples won’t brown”]

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