Two types of genetically modified apples grown in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley have been approved for sale in Canada.
Health Canada approved the Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny, grown by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Summerland. The decision was made after Health Canada found the non-browning apples safe for consumption.
“It was determined that the changes made to the apple did not pose a greater risk to human health than apples currently available on the Canadian market,” the department’s website states.
Health Canada also concluded that the Arctic apple would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of the Arctic apple compared to other traditional apple varieties available for consumption.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits began field trials of their non-browning varieties more than a decade ago and spent the last five years pursuing U.S. and Canadian approval. According to the company, only one gene was altered and changes were not made to pest and disease-protecting genes.
It will take a few years for the Arctic apples to become widely available given that it takes several years for trees to produce massive quantities of the fruit. The first products will be sold in select small, test markets in late-2016.
“Our focus is working with growers to get trees in the ground,” said Okanagan Specialty Fruits president and founder Neal Carter. “As more trees are planted and they come into commercial production, there will be a slow, but steady market introduction.”
“There are no novel proteins in Arctic fruit and their nutrition and composition is equivalent to their conventional counterparts.”
Proponents claim the new varieties could reduce food waste and enhance convenience, especially for salad bars and children’s snacks.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the retail of the company’s genetically modified apples in the United States. A week later, it was announced that Okanagan Specialty Fruits had been acquired by an American synthetic biology company for $41 million.