We all get put off when freshly cut apples start browning moments later. Now there is a new entry of genetically engineered apples set to arrive in select markets of the midwest this February and March.   

These genetically modified Golden Delicious variants are called the Arctic Apples and are produced by the Okanagan Specialty Fruits, based in British Columbia, Canada. The Arctic Apple uses a technology called RNA interference, sometimes called gene silencing. The target is the gene in the apple that controls production of the enzyme that makes it turn brown. When scientists added an extra strand of RNA, that gene was effectively switched off, or silenced.

The labels on the packages of Arctic Apples don’t say a lot about GMOs. They do have a tell-tale snowflake logo and a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to reach a website with information about the science. That fits within the framework of the GMO labeling law passed by Congress last year, but it makes genetic engineering in food less obvious than what many consumer groups have called for.

The vast majority of consumers do support clear labels on foods that contain GMO ingredients, just as the vast majority of scientists agree that they are safe to eat. For stores that may sell GMO fruits and vegetables, it pays to be up front with shoppers that these foods are genetically engineered.

The big question right now is: Once consumers know how these apples are created, will they care?

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