After years of development, protest and regulatory red tape, the first genetically modified, non-browning apples will soon go on sale in the United States.
The fruit, sold sliced and marketed under the brand Arctic Apple, could hit a cluster of Midwestern grocery stores as early as Feb. 1. The limited release is an early test run for the controversial apple, which has been genetically modified to eliminate the browning that occurs when an apple is left out in the open air.
Critics and advocates of genetic engineering say that the apple could be a turning point in the nation’s highly polarizing debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While genetic modifications have in the past been mainly defended as a way to protect crops, the Arctic Apple would be one of the first GMOs marketed directly to consumers as more convenient.
“What companies are desperate for is some really popular GMO product to hit the market,” said McKay Jenkins, the author of a forthcoming history of the debate. “Any successful product could lift the cloud over GMOs.”