Genetically modified non-browning apples: you'll like them

How do you like them apples? Not so much when they keep turning brown after you slice them. This is a serious problem for us first-worlders, but Okanagan Specialty Fruits has saved the day with their Arctic Apple, which has been genetically modified to never turn brown when it's cut or bruised.

The brown tinge that apples develop comes from polyphenol oxidase. It's not harmful or anything, it just changes the way that apples look. By inserting an extra copy of the same gene, you can cause the original gene (and the extra) to shut itself down, and the apple will no longer make polyphenol oxidase when you cut it open. Again, this doesn't make the apple crisper or tastier or anything, it just changes the appearance.

Why is this just a big deal? Well, according to the company, a whole apple is "for many people too big a commitment. If you had a bowl of apples at a meeting, people wouldn't take an apple out of the bowl. But if you had a plate of apple slices, everyone would take a slice." But nobody would take a slice if those slices were slightly brown, would they? I mean, check out the difference between the apple slices in the image: the ones on the right are the fancy new genetically modified version:


Personally, I don't have commitment issues with single apples, but for those of you who do (raise your hands, now!), Arctic Apples are obviously the solution, although they'll initially be available in only Golden Delicious and Granny Smith varieties. The USDA is currently soliciting public opinions on whether genetically modified fruits are a good idea or not, but it's not generally something to worry about: if or when these apples show up in your local market, they'll be the most tested type of apple ever.

In the meantime, you can achieve the same non-browning effect by sprinkling a little bit of lemon juice on your apple slices. No genetic engineering necessary.

Okanagan, via io9 and NYT

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