What is the Arctic® apple?
The Arctic® apple is an apple that has been genetically modified to not immediately turn brown when cut or bruised. This modification utilizes a genetic engineering technology known as RNA interference (RNAi), which interferes with the fruit’s natural production of an enzyme that causes browning (i.e., polyphenol oxidase [PPO]), thereby reducing the amount of the enzyme present in the apple.
What types of Arctic® apples are available?
The first Arctic® apple to be commercially available is the Arctic® Golden Delicious.
How many Arctic® apples have been produced thus far?
Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), the company that developed the Arctic® apple, reported that the fruit they are currently harvesting comes from trees that were planted in 2015, and they’ve picked approximately 175,000 pounds of apples for the initial launch.
Where is the Arctic® Golden Delicious apple available?
The Arctic® Golden Delicious apple has had a limited introduction. According to OSF, beginning November 1, 2017, the apples would be distributed to approximately 400 retailers in the Midwest and southern California. It was anticipated that they would be available for 10 to 12 weeks. In late November 2017, it was reported that about 100 small grocery stores in the Oklahoma City area were carrying the apples.
Are there plans for the expansion of the Arctic® apple into other areas?
Beyond retailers, OSF announced a partnership with the US Apple Association, School Nutrition Association, and various state Departments of Agriculture to fund healthy snacking initiatives in schools.
How will I know whether I am buying the genetically modified fruit?
At the present time, the Arctic® apples are being sold only as fresh, pre-sliced fruit in grab-and-go bags. The packages are labeled as Arctic® apples and feature QR codes.
Are there any other types of Arctic® apples?
Yes, OSF has also developed an Arctic® Granny Smith and an Arctic® Fuji, but these apples are not commercially available at this time.
Are there any non-genetically modified non-browning apples?
Yes, there is the Opal® apple, which has a non-browning trait that was developed through classical breeding techniques and is Non-GMO Project Verified.
Is the Non-GMO Project treating apples as a High-Risk GMO crop?
The Non-GMO Project adds crops to the High-Risk list when they are widely commercially available. At this time, the availability of the Arctic® apple is limited because both the harvest and the distribution are small, and the apples are being sold only as fresh, pre-sliced fruit in grab-and-go bags. Thus, there is very little risk of them being used in other products or showing up as whole fruit on store shelves at this time.