By Wayne Litke
I’ve had trouble sleeping for a couple weeks and I was unable to figure out why. Then the cause of my insomnia suddenly became apparent when I was eating a healthy snack. Yes, I am trying to eat a little healthier and as I bit into an apple a revelation of gigantic proportion unfolded in my mind. Looking at the apple in my hand, I became acutely aware that I have been struggling with the fact that the exposed white flesh of my apples turns brown if I consume the fruit over a long period of time.
Simply seeing a half-eaten brown apple leaves a disgusting image in my mind. The process of slowly eating an apple can even drive a person to the point of senseless worrying which can result in poor sleep patterns and the eventual development of a syndrome if left untreated.
As for me, my sleepless nights ended last weekend. My blissful rest returned after learning of Arctic Apples and their uncanny ability to retain their white flesh and not turn brown (oxidize or rust as I call it) when sliced, bitten or banged. Upon reading corporate literature my heart leapt for joy as I was reassured that companies such as Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OFS) that produce and market genetically modified food truly have the interests of consumers like me at heart.
The company that is based at Summerland, B.C. is one of the first – if not the very first – to produce an apple that does not brown when exposed to air. It achieves this notable characteristic by genetically modifying the apple, but in a way that does not introduce a foreign gene into the tree or apple! That’s impressive because I don’t have to worry about the long-term impact an animal gene may have in the food chain after it is placed in a plant. I am sure that will also help me sleep better.
The company’s website states, “OSF . . . specializes in developing tree fruit varieties with novel attributes that benefit fruit producers and consumers alike.” Wow – we will benefit as consumers and that is always a good thing. We truly need another biotech company that has consumers’ concerns at heart. Furthermore, OSF does not make the familiar and grandiose claim that their genetically-modified product will help fill a growing demand for food as the world’s population increases.
Referring to their genetic manipulation, the OSF website goes on to say, “This milestone is nearly two decades in the making, as Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples represent OSF’s first products since our inception in 1996. We could not have achieved this without our small-but-mighty, grower-led team and all our supporters in the agriculture and biotech industries. And, of course, all the consumers who told us they can’t wait for non-browning apples!”
I want to know how Okanagan Specialty Fruits knew I have secretly longed for the day I can leave a partially-eaten apple on my desk or a cupboard and then eat it a couple days later since it does not develop a repulsive rusty-brown colour. The Arctic apple will eliminate any fear that a brown apple is a bad apple.
Obviously there must be a lot more people who have the same sentiments as me, but they actually rose above my laziness and contacted the company (over the last 19 years) and requested a solution to the brown-apple problem . . . and the company obliged. Now, that is a corporation with a conscience and sense of public duty.
Last month, the U.S. government gave Arctic apples the thumbs up as the sale of GM apples was approved. Approximately a week later, the apples were approved for commercial sale in Canada by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada. A letter from the CFIA reportedly stated the apples “are as safe and nutritious as traditional apple varieties…”
About a week after the apples were approved for sale in Canada, the apple producer announced it had been acquired by Intrexon Corporation (out of Maryland, USA). A news release from OSF states, “Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) is a leader in synthetic biology focused on collaborating with companies in Health, Food, Energy, Environment, and Consumer sectors to create biologically-based products that improve the quality of life and the health of the planet.”
Upon reading that statement, I knew my sleep would continue to be filled with rest and pleasant dreams because the feng shui of the apple and GM food world will not be disrupted. The literature shows the new owner apparently has the same commitment as OSF when it comes to producing genetically-modified apples of the highest standard – apples that will “improve the quality of life and health of the planet.” Comforting words like that make me want to lie down and take a nap right now.
The only disturbing part of the news release about the sale of Okanagan Specialty Fruits came from the senior vice-president of Intrexon’s Food Sector. Speaking of the purchase, he said. “Through this acquisition, we can deliver more accessible and affordable choices of high-quality foods for an ever-growing population.”
Hey, that’s the infamous statement I referred to earlier – the claim made by all companies that produce GMO food. In my opinion, it is a grandiose claim that tries to give credibility to genetically-modified products before extensive research goes into potential problems that may arise from long-term use.