Arctic Apples

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Arctic Apples are a group of trademarked[1] apples that contain a nonbrowning trait (when the apples are subjected to mechanical damage, such as slicing or bruising, the apple flesh remains its original color)[2] introduced through biotechnology.[3][4] They were developed through a process of genetic engineering and precision breeding by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF).[5] Specifically, gene silencing reduces the expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), thus preventing the fruit from browning.[6] It is the first approved food product to use that technique.[7]

Engineering in the Arctic apple to produce non-browning requires two precise "events" that silence PPO expression to 10% of its normal expression, but do not change any other aspect of the apple.[8] The first event, called GD743, is a promoter and terminator gene sequence to suppress the PPO transformation process.[8] The second event, called GS784, is a marker gene which produces a protein (called NPTII) that makes the plant tissue resistant to the antibiotic kanamycin, allowing transformed plants to metabolize neomycin and kanamycin antibiotics.[9] This step is used to confirm that the apple plant’s transformation to silence PPO was successful.[8]

Okanagan Specialty Fruits successfully petitioned for regulatory approval for two apple varieties in Canada from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada[10] and in the US from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).[11] In 2012, a field test application was approved to conduct a 20-acre study of the apple in the state of Washington.[12] The apples were approved by the USDA in February 2015[13] and by the FDA in March 2015,[14] becoming the first genetically modified apple approved for US sale.[15]

As of 2016, three varieties have been approved by the USDA (Arctic Golden, Arctic Granny, and Arctic Apple Fuji) and are expected for retail sale in early 2017,[16] with a each apple bearing a "snowflake" logo[17] and QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to help inform consumers about the safety and non-browning benefits via the company website.[18]


  1. ^ Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status: Arctic™ Apple (Malus x domestica) Events GD743 and GS784. United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  2. ^ "Questions and Answers: Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ Non-Browning Apple (Events GD743 and GS784)" (PDF). APHIS. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Lehnert, R. "Firm seeks approval for transgenic apple" Archived July 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Good Fruit Grower. Jan. 15 2011.
  4. ^ Milkovich, M. "Non-browning apples cause controversy" Fruit Growers News. April 29, 2011.
  5. ^ Wilson, K. (2011, July) "Aussie Transplant Proves Fruitful: The Long Road to GMO Innovation" Archived September 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Orchard and Vine, 18-19.
  6. ^ James Vincent (19 January 2017). "The first GMO non-browning apples will go on sale in the US next month". The Verge. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  7. ^ "Apple-to-apple transformation" Archived September 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  8. ^ a b c "PPO silencing". Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Summerland, British Columbia, Canada. 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017. 
  9. ^ "Event Name: GS784; Trade name, Arctic". International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-08-21. . CFIA. Retrieved 2013-12-16.
  11. ^ Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status: Arctic™ Apple (Malus x domestica) Events GD743 and GS784. United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  12. ^ "ISB Record 12-048-102rm". Information Systems for Biotechnology. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Pollack, A. "Gene-Altered Apples Get U.S. Approval" New York Times. Feb 13, 2015.
  14. ^ "FDA concludes Arctic Apples and Innate Potatoes are safe for consumption". United States Food and Drug Administration. 20 March 2015. 
  15. ^ Tennille, Tracy (Feb 13, 2015). "First Genetically Modified Apple Approved for Sale in U.S.". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved Jan 19, 2017. 
  16. ^ Josie Musico (7 October 2016). "Arctic Apples coming to supermarkets, despite anti-GMO opposition (Agriculture blog)". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  17. ^ "Arctic Aplles - Home". Arctic Apples. 2017. 
  18. ^ Gerlock, Grant (1 February 2017). "Why The Arctic Apple Means You May Be Seeing More GMOs At The Store". US National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved 20 February 2017. 

External links[edit]

Arctic® Apples: Okanagan Specialty Fruits' Flagship Product – Nonbrowning Arctic® apples