What do you want to know about Arctic® Apples?

Previously, we asked you – our readers – what you wanted to know about the genetically engineered wheat experiment at the Rothamsted Research station in the UK. You came up with some great questions, and we all learned something new from the interview with Gia Aradottir that came from it. We think that this sort of thing will become a more frequent activity on the Biofortified Blog, in fact we’re going to do it again right now!

Frank wonders, can you make this pink lady an Arctic Apple too?

Many of you have probably heard of Arctic® Apples. These are a new type of apple that is genetically engineered to silence the enzyme that causes it to turn brown after you bruise or slice it open. Developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Summerland B.C., Canada, they are currently seeking regulatory approval in the US and Canada to grow, market, and sell the trees and their fruits. We have also talked about them on the blog before, and Neal Carter, the president of the company, stopped by to say a few words in the comments about the attention they have received. Now, your questions will be answered by Neal and his team.
The Arctic® Apple website has a lot of information on it, where you can learn about the process used to make this trait, how it works, and what kinds of changes happen to the apples. They also have a blog, twitter feed, and some answers to common questions.
But now the Biofortified Blog community has a chance to shine and come up with even more awesome questions to be answered right here in the next couple weeks. So, what do you want to know about Arctic® Apples?


  1. I’d be interested in knowing if if they will just be sold wholesale to commercial growers, or if they will license the apples to be sold by nurseries for home gardeners to grow. Plenty of patented varieties like SunCrisp and SnowSweet can be bought for home growing, so after deregulation is complete, would that be something the company would be interested in doing? I’d love to have some Arctic apple trees of my own.

  2. What color is the cider? I sorta like my cider in that brownish hue… Heh, now that I think of it–maybe that’s caramel color or something!

  3. I don’t think anyone said that. I think it would also be pretty obvious if an apple has been cut – it would be sliced open. Bruising would still leave a dent, however it would not turn brown as a result of that action.

  4. You are aware that a bruised apple isn’t likely to hurt you? And that before modern agriculture people had to eat blemished produce all the time, right?
    The point of this isn’t to “hide” defects or “fool” people. It’s to make it so that the fruit remains more appealing in salads and other raw uses.
    As an example, consider the pre-sliced apples in little baggies filled with nitrogen (or other inert gas or coated in citric acid). Young kids are thought to not be able to hold and eat full sized apples. So parents want to send lunches with apple slices … but brown ones are unappealing. Hence the pre-sliced fruit in baggies to retard browning.

  5. Well, as a person who worked at a food store and knows how easily apples can get scratches (and how easily people will complain about them resulting in some still good stuff being thrown to the compost), I applaud this.
    My questiona:
    Why the name “Arctic”?
    Can it be baked like a normal apple?

  6. I have to admit that I don’t like the bruised parts. I know intellectually that it is perfectly safe but it looks spoiled so I usually cut out the bruises, wasting food. This is what most people do. I would love the option to have an apple that didn’t have these unsightly areas.
    I’d also love to have apples that I could precut and take to work. I have had some dental work so eating a whole apple isn’t something I want to risk. Even Cortlands (supposedly less browning) end up looking gross by lunchtime, and adding lemon juice or citric acid powder leaves the slices slimy. Sometimes I take a knife with me in my lunchbag but even wrapped up it makes me nervous to have a knife in there. The result is that I eat apples far less frequently than I should, given their fiber content and relatively low calories compared to other fruit. If I had children then I certainly wouldn’t send them with a knife and if I’m not willing to eat slimy brown apples they probably would not either.

  7. What sorts of efforts have been made to reduce browning through conventional breeding? I have heard Cortland and Granny Smith are low browning but it certainly seems like they brown pretty quickly anyway. What barriers are there if any to creating a very low browning or non browning apple with breeding?

  8. Millions of apples are culled at harvest for defects. Tons more lost in the supply chain. Tons more as consumers discard perfectly good fruit for cosmetic reasons.
    This is about producing a product with superior post-harvest and consumer performance. Kudos.

  9. I would like to know if it is cisgenic or transgenic. What T-DNA features are present? RNAi?
    I’m curious how the anti’s will pick this apart. Certainly p-dNA technology is the next wave and I’m curious if this is part of it.

  10. I favour the method of putting different varieties of apple trees in a field, all trees having the heredity of no laboratory, far away from any GM, and leaving it to them.

  11. Really not sure what the point of these statements are, besides expressing your opinion that you don’t like the idea of these apples.
    I have a question – is grafting apple trees “natural”? It is a technological change brought about by humans, that alters the way trees are produced, grown, bred, etc. It is no more essentially natural than genetic engineering. Would you eat a cloned, grafted apple?

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