March 21, 2015 7:38 pm
Updated: March 23, 2015 2:43 pm

Genetically modified ‘Arctic Apple’ approved by Health Canada

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WATCH ABOVE: The genetically modified apple doesn’t turn brown and Health Canada’s approval means it could hit store shelves as early as next year.

KELOWNA – After more than three years waiting for approval, the Okanagan’s Arctic Apple now has the green light to hit store shelves in Canada. The genetically modified apple doesn’t turn brown and Health Canada’s approval means it could hit store shelves as early as next year.

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While it may be good for Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), the company behind the apple, the Okanagan Fruit Growers’ Association (BCFGA) has some concerns.

READ MORE: Genetically engineered B.C. apples OK’d for U.S.

“If you’re going to let the market decide, you’re going to have to give people a reference point to make a decision based on their personal purchasing habits, and I would assume that would be through some kind of labeling,” says BCFGA president Fred Steele.

Steele says there is concern that if the Artic Apple isn’t labeled as a genetically modified (GMO) product, consumers who don’t want to buy modified foods might want to stay away from all apples, including those that are non-GMO.

“You know, I’ve never contested the science of this thing,” he says. “It is the market reaction to this thing and we really don’t know yet.”

The idea for the Arctic Apple has been in the works for almost two decades and has its fare share of critics. However, Okanagan Specialty Fruits says they’re not interested in giving their product a GMO label. While over 60 countries around the world have GMO labeling, it’s not mandatory in Canada.

READ MORE: Teenage activist meets with Health Canada to discuss GMO labelling

“We are not going to label it as a GMO,” said their founder Neal Carter in an interview with Global News.

“We have spent a lot of time and money and effort to prove that this product is as safe as any other apple.”

OSF says it will have an “Arctic Apples” label on the fruit instead.

“Biotech foods are developed with very different attributes using a wide array of techniques, so we prefer to provide information on our “Arctic” brand, specifically, and provide plenty of information on our website and elsewhere explaining the science behind our apples for anyone who is interested,” says Carter.

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