Quote:Biotechnology is heading into the Garden of Eden. A Canadian corporation, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, is offering a genetically engineered apple that doesn't brown after it's bruised or sliced. The U.S. Department of Agriculture appears to be on the brink of deregulating the so-called "Arctic" apple, allowing it to be planted and sold without any further oversight. The company won't label the apples as genetically engineered, but will sell the fruit under the Arctic apple brand.
To many people, reduced browning may not seem like such a big deal. The new apples won't be any cheaper, taste any better or carry any fewer toxic chemicals than conventional apples do. But Okanagan hopes the apple will appeal to fresh-cut apple-slice processors, the food service industry and consumers unwilling to splash sliced apples with lemon juice.
Whatever challenges it poses to the apple industry, the Arctic apple raises a much larger issue for the public: how to evaluate the risks of the next big wave of genetically engineered crops and foods.
Does the Arctic apple pose risks to health and the environment? As of right now, the government doesn't know. That's because the Arctic apple is the product of complex new genetic engineering techniques that the USDA is just learning how to evaluate.