Non-browning GMO Arctic apples now on North American shelves

Genetically modified (GM) non-browning apples are now available to consumers in North America. The first harvest of the Arctic variety was recently brought in by Canadian company, Okanagan Speciality Fruits (OSF).

Non-browning Arctic apples now on North American shelves
A conventional apple on the left shows signs of browning, compared to the non-browning Arctic apple on the right.
Photo: Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc

The company’s website reported that this first harvest would be packaged as slices instead of whole fruit, as company research had found that children preferred to eat pre-sliced apples.

Arctic apples reportedly also tasted better than apples treated with conventional non-browning treatments, and OSF said the variety was as nutritious as other varietals. The non-browning apples were developed by Australia’s CSIRO. OSF was the first company to license CSIRO’s non-browning technology.

OSF said it had taken 20 years to develop the variety and to get the necessary legal approvals to grow and distribute it for human consumption.

The company explained how the variety was developed, saying that when an apple’s cells were damaged by being bitten, sliced, or bruised, “an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) initiates a chemical reaction that results in the apple’s flesh turning brown.

While there’s more than one type of apple browning, this primary form is called enzymatic or oxidative browning.” Reducing the PPO led to the non-browning.