Tag Archives | Okanagan Specialty Fruits

What Is The Big Deal About a GMO Apple?

GMOapple

I spend a portion of my life dedicated to activism. It’s something that helps ease my own personal fears for the environment and future for my four children. I’m proud to belong to an activist group focused on educating the public on GMOs (genetically modified food) called GE Free BC. A big focus over the last year for our group has been on the genetically modified apple for a few reasons:

– the company that purchased the GMO apple technology lives about 4 hours away from my community in BC’s beautiful Okanagan so it’s a big BC/Canadian problem.
– this is only the 2nd fruit produced in the WORLD that is GMO so that makes it a pretty big deal.
– the idea of a tree fruit that needs to be pollinated being engineered is so scary to me (bees are already suffering enough with pesticides) that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I wasn’t involved in trying to stop this from actually being approved in Canada.
– the Okanagan company that produced the GMO apple, has the technology ready to go for peaches, pears, and cherries.  Once our apples are contaminated, 3 other tree fruits will be next.

So with the company behind the GMO apple technology seeking approval from the Canadian Government (we have no way of knowing what the status of this is, as it’s a secret process), our efforts have been very focused to Canada. So you can imagine our shock when news broke this week that the USDA approved the GMO apple for the US. Any North American with concerns about GMOs has been dismayed as this news slowly made it’s way around North America and the rest of the world. It is very difficult to understand why North American governments continue to approve food decisions that consumers clearly don’t want. Not only do consumers not want this, but also farmers, tree growers, and stores are opposed to the idea of growing and selling an apple that doesn’t brown. That is what the ‘modified’ gene trait is with this apple; the gene that browns the apple has been silenced. These Arctic, non-browning apples will not brown until 15-18 days after being cut so it will look fresh when it’s actually rotting.  And for the few consumers that don’t see the big deal about having an apple that doesn’t brown, here is why we are so concerned:

– in order to silence the browning gene, they’ve genetically engineered the apple by inserting a virus, bacteria, and antibiotic marker gene into the apple’s DNA.
– no animal or long-term studies done or requested before approval.
– we don’t know what the nutritional value of an apple once it’s actually rotten. The non-browning alteration is a cosmetic coverup to the actual quality of the fruit.
– every cell of the GM apple tree will have the transgene and once the growers start production of these apples, it will cross contaminate soil, water, insects, and any organism (including humans) that eats it. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box of contamination before proper testing is completed.

As North Americans we think we are so much more advanced than other countries. As Canadians, we live in one of the most beautiful, peaceful countries in the world. But over the years we’ve really let food standards slide when it comes to pesticide use, GMO food production (yes, we are big producers of it) and food standards that allow most of the non-organic packaged food on our grocery store shelves to contain GMO ingredients. Countries that are poor and hungry have said “NO” to growing GMO seed and a bigger “NO” to importing our food, which is slowly being viewed worldwide as tainted. So what did the US do when they approved the GMO apple this week? I fear that they’ve just lost another export. Contamination of a food system is viewed as that big a deal in other countries, and since we know the Ambrosia apple started out with a discarded core in a compost bin, the fear needs to be acknowledged.

If this is the first you are hearing about the GMO apple, we hope you feel outrage and want to take action. Here is possibly the most important action you can take. Talk to your grocery store Manager. Keep it easy, short, and passionate. Tell them that you as a consumer do not want the GMO apples (also called non-browning apple or Arctic Apple) and do not want your local store carrying it if the Canadian Government approves it or after they come into production in the US. If the grocery stores are not carrying this apple, the demand will not be as great.

For more information on how to stop the GMO apple, please visit the CBAN website: http://www.cban.ca/ and follow GE Free BC on Facebook. The time is now to plug back into our food system before we have our grandchildren asking us “how did you let this happen??”!!

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#NoGMapple Twitter Party April 23

Did you know our apples are under threat? A small BC company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits has asked the Canadian and US governments to approve a genetically modified “non-browning” apple. Normally when an apple is first cut, it will brown, but this GM apple will not brown for 15 to 18 days!

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DETAILS:

Date: Wednesday April 23, 2014
Time: 6-7 pm PST
Twitter Party Hashtag: #NoGMapple

Panelists: @biotechaction @eatingarainbow  @NaturesPath @GMOFreeCanada @LeftCoastFoods @RachelsNews @GEFreeBC

Moderator: @Mommyfootprint

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If you are new to twitter parties then you might want to use the TWUBS Twitter Party Platform. Create an account, sign into twitter and click on our twubs Page: http://twubs.com/NOGMapple

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MORE INFO ON THE GM APPLE

Back to the non-browning apple and why it needs to be stopped. Who wants a non-browning apple? Apple growers don’t want it. Consumers don’t want to buy it. But the GM apple could be approved this year. It would be the first genetically modified apple in the world and first GM fruit grown in Canada.

Consumers feel that a non-browning apple is deceptive – it will  look fresh when they are not. And because neither the company nor Health Canada has conducted animal feeding trials to test the safety of eating GM apples, we are relying on one company’s opinion that it’s safe.

We need to raise awareness and get petitions signed so that our Government doesn’t approve it. Spread the word! Across Canada we need your action and if you live in BC, we need five thousand signatures in hard copy form by May 6th. Print off a copy of this petition, make sure your complete address and postal code are recorded, and mail to the address listed at the base of the petition.

Related Articles:

What You Need To Know About GM Apples

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What You Need To Know About GM Apples

Most of you live in Canada or the US. We believe there is freedom living in these two beautiful countries and Government will protect our basic need for clean food. But like it our not, North American food is turning into the most toxic in the world. Our countries have lost food exports because we are both top producers of genetically modified food.

Now we have an opportunity to change this. And it may sound funny, but it’s going to start with an apple. The fruit that we’ve told our children “eat an apple a day, keep the Dr. away”, is on the verge of being genetically modified and we won’t be able to stop the damage once this science is approved by the Canadian Government.

banner stop gm apple

There is a company in the Okanagan valley of BC  ** Okanagan Specialty Fruits ** that has reached the Federal Government of Canada to pass a non-browning apple. They will not be using ‘hybrid’ cross pollination to come up with one type of non-browning apple. The science behind this GM apple is a technology done by the browning gene being silenced by inserting a new genetic sequence from 3 different species of apple cells with apple DNA that has had a plant virus and 2 bacteria genes inserted – otherwise known as genetic modification.  And the misconception is that 1 or two types of non-browning apples will soon be available in your supermarket for you to choose (nestled between the apples that do brown). THIS IS NOT THE CASE because any type of apple could be grown with the technology and North America doesn’t label GMO food! The term non-browning is a technology that if planted, will effect any type of apple (Gala, Ambrosia, Granny Smith, etc.) grown. And the problem won’t be that farmers are lined up to grow apples this way, the problem will be contamination. Bees pollinate apple trees. If this technology is approved by the Canadian Government and even a few farmers start to use non-browning technology on apples, we will have a contamination problem that will only increase with time.

Do you honestly think it’s healthy to stop a naturally occurring process like fruit showing decay?  The GM apple doesn’t start browning until 15 days after it’s been cut. Talk about deception. . . rotting apples that still look fresh. It’s not natural and if we loose our fight for genetically modified apples, our food system will be open to attack. We have no idea what information or studies Okanagan Specialty Fruits presented to the Canadian Government or if it’s factual. Yes, they are allowed to keep that secret. What we do know is there have been no 3rd party studies done by Health Canada or CFIA- the two bodies that are in place to protect Canadian health. Okanagan Specialty Fruits has not done any animal feeding studies on their technology. They are not submitting such studies and Health Canada will not ask for them which is terrifying.

Apples are a big deal in my Province of BC. We produce 30% of the apples grown in Canada, which is about 80% of all BC tree fruit production and the growers and apple farmers of BC don’t want this technology to be approved. In 2001 Okanagan farmers protested and chased Okanagan Specialty Fruits out of the Okanagan so the trials were done in Washington and New York. How do my US readers feel about that? GM apple trials were run in two of your states. Remember what happened when one field of GM wheat tested positive in Oregon? Japan immediately canceled a 25,000-ton import from the US. Contamination and GM food causes that much harm to our exports. This is why many feel like this is an attack on BC’s apple and will damage the reputation of all North American apples. Think how you viewed corn after it became the poster child for GMO. Do we want this to happen to the apple?

So what is currently a BC and Canadian problem will ultimately become a problem for all of North America. The Canadian and American food system are so deeply intertwined and the issue of contamination is a fact. So this is a much bigger problem and we need everyone involved to stop the GM apple. We know that it’s consumers that can change the food system and culture in our country. You are not only helping your families and protecting our food system, but the farmers also do not want this technology. Organic and traditional apple growers in BC and Washington have publicly said they don’t want this technology approved.

CBAN (Canadian Biotechnology Action Network) is leading the charge but they need our help. They have issued three steps for how we can help our Government say ‘no’ to the GM apple. Please share these images, take action, and raise awareness about our battle for clean food. Don’t forget what an impact you have personally when you share information with your friends and family by talking or through social media. We have until April 15th to fight this through hard copy petitions. If you live in BC, here is a link to the petition you can print from the CBAN website. Also share the three actions outlined below:

Action-1-web

 Action-2-web

Action-3-web

My thanks to Teresa from GE Free BC for taking the time to explain this issue. Please follow this Facebook Fan Page, in addition to CBAN and GMO Free Canada. These are the groups that will distribute information first on the topic of the GM apple. Let’s push and do our part to stop untested science that affects our food system. There are many people in our countries spending large amounts of their time to fight this cause. It’s time for us to stand with them. I hope my children never eat an apple made by science instead of the proud hands of a farmer.

What to learn more about GMOs? Read these related articles:

Navigating GMO Food

Tips For Avoiding GMO Food

Sole Food Farms – Urban Farming Solution

What Are GMOs?

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