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New and "Improved" GMO Varieties

Posted by Todd Parlo 
New and "Improved" GMO Varieties
February 14, 2015 02:30AM
Golden Delicious Arctic (tm) and Granny Smith Arctic (tm) RELEASED TODAY, FEB 13 , 2015

- Characteristics : exactly the same in terms of taste, nutritional value, general appearance, tree growth physiology and disease susceptibility, insect/arthropod sensitivity, tree hardiness, general keeping and shipping quality, texture, general uses.

- Improvement : the flesh is resistant to browning (the gene expressing the enzyme polyphenol oxidase is turned off)

- Liabilities : Possible consumer backlash. The GMO debate is highly debated and polarizing. Growers may be taking a risk in establishing new plantings of genetically modified fruits.

- There will likely be an unintended benefit to growers of non GMO cultivars. Regardless of the science, current public sentiment is tilted toward suspicion of these perceived invasive methods. By capitalizing on this development, "traditional" growers can market their produce as an alternative. Think : G M No , or growing and selling the traditionally bred slow browning, super-secret variety known as...Cortland. (Didn't they know about this one?)

- It speaks volumes that the first modified apple would, instead of dealing with growing challenges like disease and pest control, or increasing nutritional levels, be concerned with aesthetics. A cynical review might find symbolism in a product produced by a culture which embodies beautiful veneers, enveloping a pitiful core. But I would never say such a thing...

There are 498 apples that are recorded to be highly resistant to oxidation, without genetic modification.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2015 06:01AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
February 16, 2015 09:48PM
Of all the things the industrial Ag complex could use GMOs to do and possibly make a reasonable argument for . . . catastrophic disease infection, for example . . . a non-browning apple that McDonalds and others can keep in their extended shelf life stocks and throw in their happy meal boxes is a total waste of research science and is extremely short sighted in my opinion. Are Americans really that shallow of a consumer base? I fear the majority of us are or this GMO step would never have taken flight, as it has.

How about we cut an apple and actually eat it, relatively quickly, vs seeing how long it can sit on the counter without browning. Be that minutes, hours, days or possibly forever as is the case with some of these new GMO non-browning varieties.

I agree, that the non-GMO growers will likely benefit from this, and it may well further grow that niche. I predict, that in my area of the Sierra Foothills, this apple will not sell well in our local grocery stores, especially, once word of mouth spreads of the GMO factor. Fast food and chain restaurants will be these modified apple's only outlets . . . . which really may be all the mass production template is concerned with anyway.

It will be interesting to see how the world markets view and accept these GMO altered offerings.

Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
February 17, 2015 01:27AM
Time to get proactive, y'all, and follow the lead of Carrie Nation! Only this time the "hatchetations" will be in gmo orchards and gmo fields and gmo headquarters. And while I am funning ... this may be the only way to turn the tide of genetic destruction.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
March 01, 2015 01:05AM
An update, for those interested in such things. That homey little biotech company (supporters of the new technology were loving this referral of the
tiny less than a dozen concern)...has...who'da thunk...been aquired. Yes, a week after the release of ARCTIC tm apples, the company was bought up by Intexon, another jillion dollar corporation, but with our best interests at heart. In their pr literature they wax about feeding the starving world. How nice. "A better world through better DNA" is the company slogan. Apparently the old DNA just won't do.

Interestingly, Cornell in 2013 had released a classically bred apple (Dr Susan Brown I think spearheaded this), called "Ruby Frost". This variety, you guessed it, is bred to be slow to brown. (We will refrain from mentioning Brown not wanting brown apples). So, whatever we think about slow oxidation and its place in the hierarchy of food priorities, it is apparently possible without genetic engineering.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
March 02, 2015 01:43AM
Bravo, everyone. Out here Winter Banana is thought of as a salad apple....uh, as it doesn't brown for quite awhile when chopped up. Many of my apples are slow to brown, bringing one concerned (think hippy chick) customer to worry that I might not be organic and decided not to buy my fruit. Oh well. I will be on the radio out here to discuss the Artic Apples (thanks, Todd for update on "buy out"), but I would like to know if you all know...if my neighbor grows these "things" can I be contaminated through bee pollinating both orchards...will all my varieties stop browning...fer instance. Or will my apples have a GMO marker after a few years?? It's not soy or corn or canola so I don't think so, but I'm sure that will come up on the radio show. Thanks Oh and careful with that axe Eugene...err Carrie
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
March 02, 2015 02:42AM
OK, here is my "scientist's" take on the situation. 1) In fact this apple is somewhat different from most GMO's. There is no foreign DNA introduced. All they have done is silence a particular gene which is present in all apples, (albeit variably expressed). But this distinction is far beyond the understanding of a sceptical/hostile public, and I don't think that even the most sophisticated PR campaign could convey it. As far as the public is concerned, these apples are "genetically modified". And that is good. If they do make their way into the fast food outlets it is pretty easy to create a raucous social media message that "MacDonalds is putting GMO apples in their salads", which would be awfully hard to counteract. 2) Will your neighbour's trees contaminate your trees? Yes and no. They will have absolutely no effect on the fruit from your trees. (The fruit is determined by the genetic makeup of your trees). The seeds, however, may well contain the gene silencer, (because the seed contains the genetic material of both your tree and the pollinator.) As long as nobody is trying to grow out new trees from the seeds, (which is highly unlikely), the altered genetic material will die out when the core is composted. There is, however, a rider here: any wild seedlings which spring up from the contaminated apples, for example drops or critter thefts, will contain the altered genes. So the genetic material will eventually escape into the environment, with unknown consequences.

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
March 02, 2015 03:25AM
To the question of whether or not GMO apples can transfer genetics to other apple specimens, the answer is, you bet. Any alteration in the dna of an organism is transferable through sexual reproduction. It should be kept in mind that this would be the seed, it being the progeny, not the fruit (receptacle and calyx tissues). In cider and perhaps other processing, the seeds will be damaged, and it is possible to ingest gmo material, be it in small amounts. It is every person's decision whether or not this ingestion is an issue. What is certainly true, is that those seeds will sprout somewhere, and they will have those modified genes, like it or not.

Proponents (including Okanagan Specialty Fruits) do not deny the risk of cross-contamination, instead taking the stance that it is unlikely given buffer strips and the like. One might keep in mind that the US had a buffer strip with Japan called the...Pacific Ocean... which wasn't sufficient to keep those beetles at bay. Bees'll find a way as well. And by the way, it speaks volumes that we need apple tree free strips to protect our crops from one another.

Whether or not human modified organisms (a more accurate term), is detrimental, really hasn't been established. HMO's may feed the world, cure cancer, and maybe even stop that buzzing sound on my guitar amp. But for those who don't want those genes in your apples, or food chain in general (for whatever reason), you may be already screwed.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
March 02, 2015 04:50AM
Thank you, gentlemen. Todd, we've been already definitely screwed for a hell of a long time on so many levels it can hardly be deliniated inless than 6 volumes of 1,000 plus pages each. And thanks for such quick and elucidating responses. Shall I send my sound man over to look at your amp? GMO's will NOT feed the world or probably cure cancer (but maybe)...but your amp definitely NOT.
Re: New and "Improved" Varieties
March 02, 2015 08:38AM
This apple was developed just a few miles down the road from me . They made a presentation to the local apple growers trying to get acceptance but there they stated more then just silencing and also said we would not have to worry about bees cross pollinating as they only fly 40- 50 feet . That got a few laughs .

Heres a statement from CBAN , a biotechnology organization in Canada ;

Referring to the technology that silenced the genes responsible for the browning process in the apple, Keller says, “silencing does not involve the insertion of genes of a different species into the apple plant. Rather, existing genes responsible for browning within the plant are switched off.”

This description is presumably written to calm consumer nerves but is both factually incorrect and misleading. In fact, the “non-browning” GM apple will have a range of genetic sequences inserted. Modified apple DNA will be inserted along with genetic sequences from at least three different species:
• a regulatory gene switch from a plant virus (Cauliflower Mosaic virus promoter: CaMV 35S)
• a terminator sequence from a bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens taken from its Nopaline synthase gene: nos)
• an antibiotic resistance marker gene from a bacterium (Streptomyces kanamyceticus), here the nptII gene, which confers resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin.

Dr. Keller also appears to be implying that genetically engineering an apple with modified apple DNA would somehow be more benign than using genetic sequences from other species.

This may connect to public perception but is not substantiated by science.

On the contrary, there is evidence to show that unexpected side effects can and do occur with the use of genes or genetic sequences from within the same species.

Also at issue is where in the apple genome the new gene sequences get inserted, as gene insertions and processes of genetic engineering can cause injuries and disruptions (mutations) within the plants’ own genetic makeup.

This question is highly relevant to apple growers. Apple growers may wish to know that the apple genes that are to be switched off in the GM apple are not just responsible for browning but, for example, may also play a significant role in plant resistance and defence against disease and pests.

Such inter-relations, interactions and multi-functionality inside the genome, as well as within the metabolic pathways of organisms, are precisely why genetic engineering is not as simple as companies would like us to believe, and why it deserves stronger scrutiny from our regulatory agencies.

If one follows the work of Arpad Pusztai , UK early 90 's . It may be the process of insertion that is more concern then what may be inserted .
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