Thursday, April 18, 2013

Frankenapple: Bad News No Matter How You Slice It

Thanks to the biotech industry’s relentless quest to control our food, McDonald’s, Burger King and even school cafeterias will soon be able to serve up apples that won’t turn brown when they’re sliced or bitten into. A new, almost entirely untested genetic modification technology, called RNA interference, or double strand RNA (dsRNA), is responsible for this new food miracle. Scientists warn that this genetic manipulation poses health risks, as the manipulated RNA gets into our digestive systems and bloodstreams. The biotech industry claims otherwise. Like any non-organic apple, the new GMO Arctic® Apple will be drenched in toxic pesticide residues, untested by the U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA) and likely unlabeled. And of course these shiny new high-tech apples will cost less than a pesticide-free, nutrient-dense, old-fashioned organic apple that turns a little brown after you slice it up.

Unless we stop them, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will approve “Frankenapple” this year.


Non-organic apples top the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, for both the volume and the stunning array of pesticides consistently found on them. According to the Pesticide Action Network’s analysis of the most recent USDA data, apples tested positive for 42 pesticides, including organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides. Both are endocrine disruptors, both have suspected neurological effects, and both are considered especially toxic for children. (Organophosphates are the basis for nerve gases used in chemical warfare, and have been linked to the development of ADHD in kids).

Given such a grim report card, one could argue that it really doesn’t make any difference if we start tinkering with the apple’s genes.

After all, unlike GMO corn or salmon, scientists aren’t injecting pesticides or genes from foreign plants or animals into the genes of apples to create the Frankenapple. They’re “just” adding a synthetic gene that reduces the apple’s ability to produce polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme that causes the apple to turn brown when it’s exposed to oxygen. The synthetic gene contains DNA sequences from four of the apple’s own genes that naturally govern production of polyphenol oxidase. This process of shutting down an organism’s ability to express a specific gene is called RNA interference.

Does RNA interference make the Frankenapple hazardous to human health? OSF, the industry, and some scientists say, no. Others, including Michael Hansen of the Union of Concerned Scientists, say very possibly. Hansen says the process involves “manipulating tiny pieces of RNA which survive human digestion and can have significant impacts on the human body.”

But that’s only the half of it, says Hansen. The chemical compound that is shut off in the engineered fruit, in order to make it not oxidize or brown, is a chemical compound that also fights off plant pests. What happens when the apple’s ability to fend off insects is compromised? Growers will need to spray greater amounts, of possibly even more toxic pesticides, on a crop already saturated with at least 42 types of pesticides.

RSVP: Join the GMO Apple Protest in Chicago! The biotech industry is so proud of its latest frankenfood, it’s giving Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. (OSF), creator of the genetically modified Arctic® Apple, an award. We thought it would be fun to let them know what we think about that. So we’ve planned an event of our own, and we hope you’ll join in. The OCA, along with other consumer activists, will protest the GMO apple award ceremony on April 23, at noon, outside the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. Join us for a press conference, rally and picket line, complete with free T-shirts, organic apples and posters.

And everybody...this is important enough to write to and call your US and state reps about and tell them that this is totally unacceptable for not only us adults safety...but for our CHILDREN'S safety! To be fed this in our schools lunches is COMPLETELY & TOTALLY untolerable...PERIOD!

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