KELOWNA – The B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association doesn’t want to see the genetically modified Arctic apple on grocery store shelves in Canada.
The group passed a resolution at its annual general meeting in Kelowna to ask the Canadian government to de-register the product.
The Arctic apple doesn’t turn brown, because the gene responsible for producing the enzyme that causes browning has been switched off.
It was deregulated in the U.S. in February 2015 and approved by Health Canada shortly afterwards, giving the green light for the sale of the apple in both countries.
The issue, says B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association President Fred Steele, is what could be a negative consumer response to a genetically modified apple.
“It’s not the end of the world, but I want to make sure organic growers are protected; our conventional growers, and I don’t want adverse reaction to apples, period,” says Steele.
Kelowna apple grower Amarjit Lalli doesn’t think the association will succeed in getting the variety de-registered. But his late resolution to push for the Arctic apple to be labeled a genetically modified product also passed at the meeting.
“It’s ultimately the consumer that decides what they consume,” says Lalli. “As long as they know and they’ve got that choice.”
No one at the Summerland company that developed the Arctic Apple, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, could be reached for comment by the publishing deadline.
In the past, the man behind the non-browning apple, Neal Carter, has championed its safety and rejected the idea of labeling it as a GMO.
“We’re not going to label as GMO. The concern is we’ve spent a lot of time and effort to prove it is as safe as any other apple…and this GMO label will really just demonize the product,” Carter said in an interview with Global News in February 2015.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits was sold to an American corporation last year but the founder, Neal Carter, has stayed on.
Now the company has applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the deregulation of its next non-browning variety, the Arctic Fuji.