The US Department of Agriculture has approved the first two genetically modified apple variety for planting and sale in the United States.
Developed by Canadian firm Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., the two varieties: Arctic® Granny and Arctic® Golden have been genetically engineered to resist browning. When the cell walls of apples are ruptured a chemical reaction turns the apple brown. It involves an enzyme in the apple known as polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and phenolic antioxidant compounds.
The breeding team have turned down the expression of the apple PPO genes in a process called gene silencing, using low-PPO genes from other apples. This means that Arctic apples produce too little PPO to brown.
Neal Carter, president and founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, said, “The commercial approval of Arctic apples, our company’s flagship product, is the biggest milestone yet for us, and we can’t wait until they’re available for consumers.”