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GMO apples stop an enzyme from browning the bruised or cut fruit: Choice wanted

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The GMO fruit is called Arctic apples. Would you buy genetically-modified (GMO) apples that were changed so they down brown when cut? Or would you prefer organic apples and simply keep them from browning by dipping your apples in lemon or lime juice (or apple cider vinegar)? If vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid) and water are put on the apples, they also would not quickly brown after being cut. See, "Capital Press | GMO apple stirs up storm in industry."

So why go to GMO lengths to make apples that won't brown when cut or bruised by changing the genes of the apple in such a way as to stop an enzyme from doing its job of oxidation (browing) on the cut or bruised apple? Those GMO apples have been engineered to “silence” a gene that causes browning when they are sliced. For big farma using big pharma, GMO apples could reduce costs and increase sales in the sliced-apple snack business as it boosts overall apple consumption, which has been flat for decades, maybe. Maybe not.

What if you eat the apple and that same enzyme in your body is stopped from doing some other job it's supposed to do? How do you know what those apples will or won't do to your body in the long term? It all depends on who's listening to the consumer and who's being heard.

If you stick to organic apples, what happens when the organic orchards become contaminated with the GMO apples, for example when the wind blows or there's a water runoff?

Announcements by McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) and Gerber Products Company stating that they would not use Arctic Apples, the world's first genetically-engineered apples, pending approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, emerged a few months ago. You can check out the article, "GMO Apples Rejected By McDonald's."

The moves by the major food suppliers suggest that all the bad press on GMO foods is having an impact, despite any political wins the biotechnology industry has had in the ongoing fight over the products, notes the article, which also explained that the international environmental network Friends of the Earth announced that Gerber and McDonald's wrote letters dated Oct. 31, 2013 and Nov. 1, 2013 respectively, confirming that they would decline to use the "non-browning" apples in their foods.

That article explained, "As stated in your letter all of our GERBER fruit and vegetable purees are made without using GM crops," Gerber's letter reads. "We do not use Artic Apples nor do we have plans to use Arctic Apples in the future."

Currently a Canadian grower hopes to gain USDA and Canadian approval to grow and sell genetically modified apples early next year. The U.S. apple industry fears it will damage sales. Growing applies is big business, a multi-billion dollar industry.

Apple growers who are not planting organic orchards may be looking forward to receive government approval for production and sales of his Arctic-brand Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples in the U.S. and Canada.

On the other hand, the apple industry opposes USDA approval, not out of opposition to genetic engineering but out of fear it could cause apple sales to decline because a lot of consumers demand organic apples or at least affordable apples free of genetic changes that go into the human body or animals when the apples are consumed.

The apple industry fears financial risk

If consumers refuse to buy, the apples won't sell, and it's taking a huge financial risk that puts organic produce as the apple of the shopper's eye seeking health benefits. Big farma just as big pharma (the industry) likes science but hates financial risk. The risk means introducing the GMO apple into the largest producer of apples in the U.S. For example, Washington state is famous for its apple-growing industry.

Some people refer to large fruit growing as an industry as farmgate, meaning industries of growing apples for billions. For example, in 2012 the apple crop in the USA amounted to about $4 billion to $4.3 billion, excluding packing, shipping and processing, with about three-fourths of that coming from Washington, according to the U.S. Apple Association. You can check out the U.S. Apple Association on Facebook, U.S. Apple Association | Facebook.

Would you buy only organic applies if you knew the other types of apples were going GMO?

You keep reading the same repeated mantra in news articles that no health risks have been associated with GMO. But studies do say differently. See, "Arctic Apples – A New GMO Breed Not Made By Nature - Blogs." or see, "Tell Gerber: No GMO apples in baby food! · Causes." Out of the controversy over genetic engineering to make more money for the industry or export GMO produce to other countries to "save the world" or simple public awareness, you have a controversial issue that divides people when it comes to media coverage of the news about studies in mainstream versus niche publications or video media. See, "Monsanto's GMO Corn Linked To Organ Failure, Study Reveals." There's the article, "Altered Food, GMOs, Genetically Modified Food - National Geographic."

Genetic engineers can splice genes from the cecropia moth into apple plants, offering protection from fire blight, a bacterial disease that damages apples and pears. The purpose is the same: to insert a gene or genes from a donor organism carrying a desired trait into an organism that does not have the trait, says the article. If you check out the National Geographic article, it explains how the engineered organisms scientists produce by transferring genes between species are called transgenic.

It's not only about apples. A few dozen transgenic food crops are currently on the market, among them varieties of corn, squash, canola, soybeans, and cotton, from which cottonseed oil is produced. Most of these crops are engineered to help farmers deal with weeds, insects, and disease. What about apples made healthier for people by knowing how each change affects the organs, arteries, allergies, and systems of humans or animals who eat them? A lot of consumers worry about allergies. Check out the article, "Anti-allergy genetically modified apples - Phys.org."

In fact 75% of people allergic to birch pollen are also allergic to apples, according to the article, "Anti-allergy genetically modified apples - Phys.org." That article explains how that happens because a protein in the pollen, which causes an allergic reaction, is similar to a protein found in apples and some other fruit and vegetables. The issue is more common in regions with many birch trees, such as central and northern Europe.

How you look at GMO apples, it pushes peoples' buttons. GMO food labeling is another issue that the industries fear will put them at financial risk. The news articles make it appear to consumers that the industry fears financial risk more than having the empathy and compassion to look into human health and do research as to what happens when GMO foods are eaten by animals or allergies humans complain about and the possible causes. It's a debatable subject.

The industry for the present is scared of consumers. Will the customers buy the GMO apples? What type of financial risk is ahead, they may wonder. And shouldn't GMO apples be labeled as to what's been changed from nature? Some big apple growers tell mainstream media that they are not involved in GMO apples and have no plans to start. Others are cautious. What would you do? Accept the market, move forward, or talk more about going organic?

Genetic modification is not breeding. It's a big step, a change that needs to take into consideration consumer acceptance or rejection. The consumer is king as long as the growers are listening to those who buy their products. Is the consumer always right when the consumer focuses on examining the research studies? And is the consumer friendly with the biotechnology industry, the organic growers industry, or other educational projects? If consumer education is vital, when it comes to finding out how GMOs will personally impact you, it's more than attitude.

Shoppers want to know what happens when they eat the apple that scientists working with the growers were told to go ahead and turn off one enzyme in the apple. What consumers are worried about is whether that apple, when eaten will also just turn off one enzyme in their body. And they worry if that happens, a cascade of health events might follow. But it may never happen. Still they worry about the possibility. Not everyone has ever chosen science as a past-time. You have people saying, let my doctor worry about health problems. I'll do my job attitude.

It's so easy just to pour lemon or lime juice over sliced apples to keep them from browning in the cooler. But it's about the brown spots on the skin, the peel of the outer apples in the supermarkets the growers worry about. The consumer will tend to buy apples that look unspotted with brown markings in store displays.

Who gets the competitive advantage? It's about financial risk and competition. You sell fear to get people to buy or not buy. Fear makes the markets go 'round, but not too much fear, or people will simply walk away from convention, from doing what the majority does. And it's what people can afford to pay for apples. You do have producers of sliced applies who don't want to use Arctic apples.

If you want to whiten your apples, use lemon juice or lime juice, apple cider vinegar, or ascorbic acid and water (vitamin C powder), because some people allergic to the ingredients in what some restaurants use to whiten sliced apples may get asthma attacks or can go into shock by eating a salad with certain types of apple whitening chemicals. It's much easier to whiten sliced apples with citrus juices.

If you eat apples, just eat organic apples, if you know the organic apples haven't been contaminated by commercial apples that aren't organic. See, "15 health benefits of eating apples | Nutrition | Eat Well | Best Health." Check out, "What contaminants are you eating - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute" and "The New Dirty Dozen: 12 Foods to Eat Organic - Good Housekeeping." And of course, the industry that produces fruit that's not organic wants you to buy their produce. Check out, "Organic Food Not Proven Healthier or Safer, Study Finds." But of course, what your goal represents is not to argue or boast whether which version of plant food is safer or healthier, but which piece of produce is more or less contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides.

If you study the mainstream media comments, numerous owners of fruit companies who favor GMO applies don't comment in news articles. Other owners of fruit-growing firms tell news reporters that they don't believe the GMO apples would change the market. They'd plant the GMO apples, if the government approves. You can check out some research from the Agricultural Research Service of USDA and what they're working on regarding genetically engineered rootstock and trees to make them resistant various diseases of plants.

Consumers are looking at the speed of how private industry is moving ahead compared to government research

And what consumers want is quality and health benefits in fruit and other edible plant foods. Are you worried about scientists silencing a gene in apples to prevent browning? Are you concerned what it may silence in your genes or your enzymes if you eat the product long-term?

Growers want consistent quality. Consumers want health benefits. Deep pockets are seeking new frontiers. Some growers think that genetically modified corn and soybeans are already in the American diet, but unless you talk to organic growers, the question comes up whether the huge corporations that grow produce are thinking more about getting wider acceptance of GMO in all crops.

They aren't looking at the great divide in consumers between those who pay more for organic produce and those apartment renters and others who can't afford fresh vegetables unless they grow them in urban gardens or have a green house in winter and the back yard in summer. And there's the population of those too old for gardening who get fed typical "nursing home" food often thought of (but not necessarily in all places) ...lots of cheesy pasta, a twig of broccoli, a potato, some stringy chicken, or a burger, and a floret of cauliflower and call it a meal...and a bout of noro-virus in winter months, some years.

On the consumer's side, are various groups of green shoppers who don't want genetically-altered foods. What most everyone really wants is choice.

Can an apple a day keep a stroke away--for some people?

Some people are a lot more stroke-prone than others, and the strokes may run in families. But can eating apples or pears help?

Apples and pears studied for health benefits and possibly reducing risk of stroke

You can read the original study's abstract on apples and pears, "Clinical Sciences: Colors of Fruit and Vegetables and 10-Year Incidence of Stroke." A 2011 study of white fruits and vegetables, such as apples and pears, or cucumbers and cauliflower, showed that these white-fleshed fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of stroke.

While studies have linked high consumption of fruits and vegetables with lower stroke risk, the researchers' prospective work in 2011 had been the first to examine associations of fruits and vegetable color groups with stroke. The color of the edible portion of fruits and vegetables reflects the presence of beneficial phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids.

Researchers examined the link between fruits and vegetable color group consumption with 10-year stroke incidence in a population-based study of 20,069 adults, with an average age of 41

The participants were free of cardiovascular diseases at the start of the study and completed a 178-item food frequency questionnaire for the previous year. Almost every month, the news is filled with the results of studies about the health benefits of apples.

In the Netherlands, one study says that a high intake of fruits that are white inside—including apples and pears—reduced the risk of stroke by 50%. What the investigators found is that for each 25 gram per day increase in white fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with a 9 percent decrease in stroke risk, according to Dr. Stephen Sinatra's article on a new study, "Stroke Risk Factors—Why Younger People Are Having Strokes."

And regarding the 2011 study, because this initial research is still so new, the researchers caution against jumping to big conclusions. Nonetheless, these early findings published in the September 2011 online release of the journal Stroke are encouraging. Also check out the October 24, 2013 news article, "More Young Adults Being Affected By Stroke, Report Finds."

From a nutrition aspect, apples and pears and other white fruits and vegetables confer a number of health benefits, and fall is an excellent time to add them to your diet

White potatoes are a starch, for example, but cauliflower and cucumbers are considered white vegetables, among several other vegetables that have white flesh but are not considered a starch vegetable, and white fruit such as pears and apples were included in the study.

Try organic so you don't get the herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides. The most contaminated by pesticides of fruits and berries are strawberries. So stick to organic varieties. Also the most heavily sprayed fruits with pesticides are peaches, and apples. So you want to look for organic peaches and apples or pears. Also see the sites, "Stroke risk factors" or "Intracranial atherosclerotic stenosis."

Fruits and vegetables were classified in four color groups:

  • Green, including dark leafy vegetables, cabbages and lettuces
  • Orange/Yellow, which were mostly citrus fruits
  • Red/Purple, which were mostly red vegetables
  • White, of which 55 percent were apples and pears

During 10 years of follow-up, 233 strokes were documented. Green, orange/yellow and red/purple fruits and vegetables weren't related to stroke. However, the risk of stroke incidence was 52 percent lower for people with a high intake of white fruits and vegetables compared to people with a low intake.

Each 25 gram per day increase in white fruits and vegetable consumption was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of stroke. An average apple is 120 grams

"To prevent stroke, it may be useful to consume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables," said Linda M. Oude Griep, M.Sc., according to the September 15, 2011 news release, "An apple or pear a day may keep strokes away." Gripe is the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in human nutrition at Wageningen Uninversity in the Netherlands. "For example, eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetable intake. "However, other fruits and vegetable color groups may protect against other chronic diseases. Therefore, it remains of importance to consume a lot of fruits and vegetables."

Apples and pears are high in dietary fiber and a flavonoid called quercetin. In the study, other foods in the white category were bananas, cauliflower, chicory and cucumber

Potatoes were classified as a starch. Previous research on the preventive health benefits of fruits and vegetables focused on the food's unique nutritional value and characteristics, such as the edible part of the plant, color, botanical family and its ability to provide antioxidants.

U.S. federal dietary guidelines include using color to assign nutritional value. The U.S. Preventive Health Services Taskforce recommends selecting each day vegetables from five subgroups: dark green, red/orange, legume, starchy and other vegetables.

Before the results are adopted into everyday practice, the findings should be confirmed through additional research, Oude Griep said in the news release, An apple or pear a day may keep strokes away. "It may be too early for physicians to advise patients to change their dietary habits based on these initial findings," she stated in the news release.

An accompanying editorial notes that the finding should be interpreted with caution because food frequency questionnaires may not be reliable. In addition, "the observed reduction in stroke risk might further be due to a generally healthier lifestyle of individuals consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables," writes Heike Wersching, M.D., M.Sc., of Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine at the University of Münster, in Germany.

Study co-authors are: W.M. Monique Verschuren, Ph.D.; Daan Kromhout, M.P.H., Ph.D.; Marga C. Ocké, Ph.D.; and Johanna M. Geleijnse, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at the American Heart Association's corporate funding website. Also in another study, citrus fruits also helped prevent stroke, according to the news release, "Eating citrus fruit may lower women's stroke risk."

Additional resources:

  • The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet rich in a variety of colors and types of vegetables and fruits, at least 4.5 cups a day. To learn more visit: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables and Tips to boost fruits and vegetables to your diet
  • Cooking with white fruits and vegetables can be easy – and healthy. Check out these recipes at the American Heart Association's Nutrition Center:
    • Cool Cucumber Dip
    • Modern Tuna Pasta Casserole (add extra cauliflower)
    • Pear and Cherry Crumble
  • Downloadable stock footage, animation, and an image gallery are located at the Heart News site under Multimedia.
  • For more information on stroke, visit the American Stroke Association website.
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