You’ve probably heard about the non-browning Arctic Apple by now. Apparently they’ve turned off one enzyme so that the apples don’t get that unsightly browning, that apples currently get, when exposed to air. Why do apples turn brown when exposed to air? It’s due to enzymatic browning. Basically exposure of certain enzymes to oxygen cause them to react and turn the apple brown. There’s absolutely nothing harmful about this reaction it’s just not all that appealing to eat a browned apple. Enzymatic browning can be prevented or at least reduced by coating cut apple in an acidic juice, such as lemon juice, which both reduces the exposure of the enzymes to the air and partially deactivates the enzymes because of the acid in the juice.
The creators of the Arctic Apple would have you believe that the resistance to their product is a result of an unfounded fear of change. I don’t think it’s that simple. There is definitely fear there, but I believe it to be legitimate. By introducing these new apple trees to the orchards we don’t know what long-term effects they may have on the eco-system or apple growing industry. There may be unintended consequences that we won’t know about until it’s too late. For example, they might be damaging to the essential bee and pollinator population thereby wreaking havoc on all of our agriculture. Genetic manipulation is not the same as using grafting and cross-pollination to breed new plants. There are many more risks to the environment and to our health when it comes to GMO. The big question I have here is: why do we need a non-browning apple? Are we so obsessed with the aesthetics of our food that we’re willing to assume all of these risks just to avoid eating a slightly browned slice of apple?