For the first time US regulators have approved commercialized biotech apples amid attempts by the organic industry and other institutes to block the genetically modified fruit.
The two apple varieties modified to resist browning are developed by the Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., and were approved by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Friday.
The Canadian company is set to commence marketing the biotech apples under the commercial names of Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny, Reuters reported.
The apples are exactly the same as their regular counterparts with the expectation that they will maintain a fresh appearance even after being sliced or receiving blows.
Neal Carter, president of Okanagan referred to the approval as “a monumental occasion.”
“It is the biggest milestone yet for us, and we can’t wait until they’re available for consumers,” he said in a statement.
The new variety of apples will become available in small quantities in 2016 but will not be widely distributed for some time.
Biotech apples broadly opposed
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) had petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to withhold approval, on the premise that the genetic alterations may prove harmful to humans and the apples may require excess levels of pesticides.
OCA Director Ronnie Cummins has said that his organization will pressure food companies and retailers not to sell the fruits.
Several consumer, environmental and science groups have stated worries that the alterations may have unintentional negative impacts on humans and other species.
Okanagan said via a statement their apples have undergone “rigorous review,” and are “likely the most tested apples on the planet.”
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