Apples that have been genetically modified so they don’t turn brown when cut or bruised were approved for planting in the U.S., a product designed to expand the market for fresh-sliced fruit and reduce food waste.
The non-browning apples created by closely held Canadian developer Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk or to have a significant impact on the human environment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on its website Friday. The fruits will be marketed as Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden.
Crop developers are increasingly using genetic engineering to appeal to consumers rather than focusing solely on farmer benefits, such as corn and soybeans that survive weed killers. In November, J.R. Simplot Co. won approval of a potato designed to resist black-spot bruising, which like Okanagan’s apples are expected to reduce food waste and increase consumer appeal.
Consumers will have to wait several years until enough Arctic apples are available for wide distribution. Test-market quantities will be available starting in 2016, followed by a “slow but steady market introduction,” Neal Carter, founder of Summerland, British Columbia-based Okanagan, said in a statement Friday.
“Our focus is working with growers to get trees in the ground,” Carter said in the statement.
Okanagan reduced the apple’s expression of an enzyme responsible for browning, the company said. The fruit is nutritionally equivalent to conventional apples, Carter said.
Okanagan is working with the Food and Drug Administration on a voluntary safety assessment of the engineered apples, the USDA said.
The apples aren’t expected to adversely affect foreign trade, the USDA said in its environmental assessment. The U.S. accounts for 16 percent of the global apple export market.