Oh no, not the apples
Stop Genetically Engineered Apples!
ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION
Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., Summerland, B.C., is seeking USDA and FDA approval for its Arctic Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples in which genes causing browning have been switched off.
The U.S. apple industry is asking USDA not to allow these genetically engineered, non-browning apples from Canada to be produced in the United States. The U.S. Apple Association voted unanimously at a March 12 board meeting to oppose the Okanagan Specialty Fruits application.
The Northwest Horticulture Council is also trying to stop GM apples. Chris Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticulture Council sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Feb. 28 expressing the council's opposition to the Okanagan application. Schlect explained in the letter that the Northwest Horticulture Council "anticipate[s] severe adverse marketing issues to confront both organic and traditional apple growers should [GM apples] be allowed into the general marketplace."
The council explained its stance in the March edition of its newsletter:
"This policy decision was made by our trustees after a careful balance, taking into account potential customer concerns, of benefits and risks to the existing commercial apple industry of the Pacific Northwest," the newsletter states. "In the end, the projected benefits of the non-browning apples did not outweigh the marketing harm likely to occur to apple growers and marketers, whether traditional or organic."
Speaking with the Capital Ag Press, Schlect said the industry is concerned that negative public perception of genetically engineered products could hurt apple sales.
"It's purely an economic thing. The negatives outweigh the positives," he said.
In this case, he said, there are issues of product labeling, possible cross-contamination, potential export market barriers and general consumer concern.
The U.S. apple industry isn't opposed to genetic engineering, but they will oppose GMO apples as long as they believe that consumers will reject them. We must use this opportunity to send a strong message to President Obama, Sec. Vilsack and APHIS Aministrator Cindy Smith that consumers are against GMO apples.