February 16, 2015

"An apple a day" just got better


Last week, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its decision to deregulate two apple varieties genetically engineered (GE) to resist browning.

According to an announcement by APHIS, the agency is taking this action based on a final plant pest risk assessment (PPRA) that finds the GE apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States. APHIS also completed an environmental assessment (EA) to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that finds deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment.

Under APHIS’ regulations, pursuant to the Plant Protection Act (PPA), APHIS is specifically required to evaluate if the apple varieties are a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants or plant products. The Act defines a plant pest as organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, or insects that can cause harm to agricultural crops or other plants or plant products. If APHIS finds through its rigorous scientific review that a new GE plant is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk, then under the law and its regulations, it is required to deregulate the GE plant.

These varieties, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF), will be marketed as the Arctic® Granny and Arctic® Golden. OSF is also currently engaging in a voluntary food safety assessment consultation with the Food and Drug Administration regarding its Arctic® Apples.

APHIS’ final PPRA and final environmental assessment can be found here.

Questions and Answers

Image of Arctic Apples courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.