The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Leave a comment

GMO Apple Comment Period Opens

A final, 30-day public comment period on USDA consideration of opening the United States to the growing and sales of genetically modified apples began Nov. 8 and will conclude on Dec. 9.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment on its environmental assessment and plant risk assessment documents for the Arctic Golden Delicious and Arctic Granny Smith apples modified to be nonbrowning by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. of Summerland, B.C.

APHIS will only consider comments on the documents as to whether the apples are likely to pose environmental and plant pest risks, not general comments on genetically modified organisms, said Joel Brooks, marketing and communications specialist at Okanagan Specialty Fruits.

“We’re really excited. After three-and-a-half years, the assessments conclude it is safe and doesn’t pose risks. That’s very satisfying,” said Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits.

He said he expects approval within 90 days in the United States and only slightly longer in Canada.

“We are closer than ever to bringing consumers and producers safe, value-added Arctic apples, providing greater convenience and reducing food waste,” Carter said.

An orchardist, Carter has been field testing his GMO apples for 10 years. Under USDA permits, trial plots are growing in Washington state and New York, Brooks said.

The apples have been modified not to brown when sliced by switching off a gene. The sliced apple business could save costs of antioxidant treatment to prevent browning and use of sliced apples could increase, Carter has said.

Also noted in the article:

The council submitted comments during the first U.S. public comment period in 2012. There were a total of 72,745 public comments and the majority were opposed, Schlect said.
Of that, 1,939 were unique comments and the rest were form responses, Brooks noted.

Leave a comment

Critical organic apple and pear challenges addressed by TOC research

I thought this information was important to pass along for those who might be affected or are interested in learning more about the project:

The Organic Center (TOC) is launching a project this Summer to prevent a potential catastrophe looming over organic apple and pear production in the US. They are working to provide the farming community critically needed information on how to prevent a condition from decimating apple and pear orchards. The issue at hand is fire blight. It is a serious problem for organic apples and pears and American farmers will no longer be allowed to use one of the key control agents, oxytetracycline, to prevent this disease as of October 2014. Fire blight doesn’t just destroy the fruit; it has the potential to kill the entire tree! To make matters worse it is highly contagious among trees and orchards so the potential for damage is enormous.

Fire blight could have huge ramifications on the future organic apple and pear market which is estimated to be over $300 million dollars at retail and Washington State currently has over 15,000 acres dedicated to organic apple and pear orchards. Continue reading