GE Apple

October 16, 2014

October 16, 2014

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

I had half of an apple a couple of days ago -- fresh, white in color and delicious. The next day, I ate the other half. Not surprising, the white had turned a little yellow, even brown. The apple still tasted good. However, that browning color made it not quite as appetizing.

I’m sure you have noticed this. That’s just the way it is. Well, not necessarily. Okanagan Specialty Fruits Co. has genetically modified an apple that does not brown when sliced. It has not been approved yet by USDA, but the Arctic® apple could be the first non-browning variety on the market.

What will consumers think about a GE apple? Consumers are already eating their weight in GE foods with no negative effects. None of the GE food on the market today has ever posed any human health problem. No problem for livestock either. A new comprehensive study by the Journal of Animal Science has concluded that feeding livestock diets of GM crops has no input on the health of those animals.

As I am sure you would expect, there are many consumers that don’t like the idea of a GE apple, and they are speaking out against it. They will say, “Just squeeze lemon juice on it and it won’t turn brown.” Then, there are those that wonder why we even need to try to find a market for a GE apple. The U.S. Apple Association agrees that the Arctic® apple is safe, but there is some worry it could hurt the overall apple market. I believe the Arctic® apple could help to open the door for broader acceptance of GE crops.

It looks like we will have a GE apple on the table one of these days. The Arctic® apple might not be alone. GE oranges also may not be too far behind. Citrus greening disease in the Florida orange country is devastating crops and challenging the industry to find a way to fight back. GE may be the answer.

Stay tuned – this debate is not settled. Next week, I’ll be down on the farm.

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.