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Comment Period For Genetically Modified Apples Reopens

by Britt E. Erickson
January 6, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 1

Credit: Okanagan Specialty Fruits
Arctic apples (right) have been genetically engineered to inhibit browning.
Photos show, on the left, a conventional granny smith apple with slices cut out; the slices have significant browning. On the right, a genetically engineered apple sliced the same way shows little to no browning.
Credit: Okanagan Specialty Fruits
Arctic apples (right) have been genetically engineered to inhibit browning.

USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is giving stakeholders more time to prepare comments on its draft risk assessment of apples that have been genetically modified to resist browning, according to a Dec. 31, 2013, Federal Register notice. The comment period initially closed on Dec. 9, but APHIS has extended that period until Jan. 30. This past November, APHIS announced that genetically modified Arctic apples, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits of British Columbia, are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk or affect the environment. Apple growers, however, have raised concerns about pollen from the genetically modified apple trees contaminating nearby conventional or organic orchards. The apple industry is also concerned about the costs of labeling and marketing to differentiate conventional apples from those that are genetically modified. Arctic apples would be cleared for commercial distribution once APHIS finalizes its assessment. Comments can be filed at under Docket No. APHIS-2012-0025.


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