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Non-browning GMO apple slices go on sale next month

Limited amounts will be available on store shelves in the Midwest in February and March.
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organi via Getty Images

Mushrooms won't be the only non-browning produce on store shelves for long. Thanks to genetic modification, we'll soon see Golden Delicious apples that don't oxidize for three weeks after being cut, bruised or bitten into. They'll be sold in packages of slices and will go on sale in the Midwest in February and March. According to Arctic, the company responsible for the fruit, this feat was achieved by "silencing" polyphenol oxidase (PPO) expression.

Arctic further explains that while PPO serves as protectors against pests or pathogens in tomatoes, that fruit/vegetable produces an awful lot of them as a defense mechanism. Apples, on the other hand, don't really have a need for it. "Apples produce very low levels of PPO, and only in very young fruit," the company writes. "Its presence is probably left over from apples of ages ago, playing no role in today's apples."

The company admits that despite almost a decade of research proving these apples and their trees grow in orchards just like non-modified examples, there's still quite a bit to learn. Specifically, Arctic mentions that PPO contain antioxidants beneficial to heart health and thus not enough is known about how much your recommended intake should be.

Organic Authority writes that some 500 40-pound boxes of apple slices will be on shelves at 10 stores in the Midwest, but rather than being labeled specifically as GMO produce, they'll have a QR code (remember those?) that, when scanned, will identify them as such.

Further on that note, the company isn't revealing which stores will sell the fruit and says the choice to label it is up to stores themselves. "We don't want to skew our test marketing results by choosing stores that may be more friendly to genetic engineering," president Neal Carter said.

"We're very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows. It's a great product and the eating quality is excellent." If the test run goes well enough, Arctic hopes to expand its current orchards, currently in British Columbia and Washington state, up to 2,800 acres by 2021.

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