What Do You Think Of These Non-Browning, GMO Apples?

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By Cooking Panda

We all know that the U.S. is sort of weirdly obsessed with aesthetics.

We see it in the media all the time; certain images are presented to us that tell us to value one look, one shade, one way of being, over all others — even though it’s all totally determined by a group of people who may or may not be anything like you!

In fact, America’s obsession with aesthetics trickles all the way down to our produce. Although nothing’s really wrong with a banana that’s a little bruised, or an oddly shaped avocado, or an apple that is slightly browned, consumers tend to prefer fruits and vegetables with the most “ideal” shape and color.

Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, Canada, recognizes American’s discerning taste and therefore is producing a limited amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious Apples, which will go on sale in February and March 2017 in the Midwest, according to Capital Press.

Why are these apples different or interesting? Well, because they have been genetically modified to never, ever go brown. Additionally, these golden delicious apples might be a little more crispy in texture, which could be enticing for some eaters who wouldn’t normally choose an apple over another kind of fruit or snack.

“We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows,” Neal Carter, the company’s founder and president, told Capital Press.

If we are to believe the popular consensus among nutritionists and scientists alike, we can feel confident that GMOs are safe to consume. However, perhaps our attention should be less on the color of the apples we eat, and more on how to change the American mindset to understand that less eye-appealing foods are often just as nutritious and delicious as their more “beautiful” counterparts!

Now that the apples have USDA approval, US Apple Association no longer has concerns and believes the produce is safe and nutritious, and remains neutral about the non-browning technology.

“US Apple supports consumer choice in the apples and apple products they select. Consumers will be able to decide whether to try the new, ‘non-browning’ apples, and ultimately, the marketplace will determine whether there is a demand for them,” the association states on its site.

Sources: US Apple Association, Capital Press / Photo Credit: Aryanifauziah/Instagram

Tags: Apples, GMO, golden delicious, non-browning, us apple association
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Science Has Created The Perfect Tomato: One That Doesn’t Wither

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By Cooking Panda

Food waste statistics in America can be depressing.

Some folks are trying to pass laws that help inform Americans about what expiry dates actually indicate, in the hopes that we’ll all stop tossing out healthy food just because of its label. Additionally, farmers have reported that massive amounts of perfectly serviceable food never even makes it to our grocery stores — never mind our plates — simply because it doesn’t look pretty enough for our unreasonable standards.

Yikes.

Perhaps in an attempt to help ameliorate our waste output, a new paper published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology reports that scientists have created an indestructible (well… sort of) version of a tomato that apparently takes a much longer time to wither or show signs of discoloration.

“Controlling the rate of softening to extend shelf life was a key target for researchers engineering genetically modified (GM) tomatoes in the 1990s, but only modest improvements were achieved,” reads the paper. “Hybrids grown nowadays contain ‘non-ripening mutations’ that slow ripening and improve shelf life, but adversely affect flavor and color. We report substantial, targeted control of tomato softening, without affecting other aspects of ripening, by silencing a gene encoding a pectate lyase.”

Essentially, the team of scientists managed to neutralize a kind of enzyme that destroys the walls of cells, thus enabling them to engineer this new, mighty tomato. Even though the tomato remains unnaturally firm for longer, it still allegedly contains equivalent amounts of molecules tied to color, smell and taste.

Remember, folks: There are currently no studies that connect GMOs to any true health risks; in fact, 16 major international science organizations (and that includes the American Medical Association and the National Academy of Sciences) have reported that we need not avoid consuming current GMOs.

Despite all that, these particular tomatoes are still unlikely ever to make it to grocery stores, according to what a USDA molecular biologist told the journal (per Grub Street). While the shelf life was extended, it would simply cost too much to clear all of the regulatory hurdles to currently justify selling the tomatoes. The molecular biologist hopes that scientists will use this research as a sort of guide for how to optimize texture when cross-breeding varieties in the future.

Sources: Nature, Genetic Literacy Project, Grub Street / Photo credit: Bonnie Plants

Tags: food waste, GMO, shelf life, tomato, tomatoes
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Report States GMO Crops Not Harmful To Humans

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By Cooking Panda

A new report released published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has stated that GMOs are not actually harmful to humans.

After analyzing over 1,000 studies, a 20-person research committee determined that genetically-modified food is not any more harmful to human health than conventionally grown crops, and is not proven to increase the possibility of suffering from cancer, allergies, obesity, or other ailments.

“We took our job very seriously, because we know how contentious this issue is,” said North Carolina State University professor of entomology and chairman of the research committee, Fred Gould, as noted by The Chicago Tribune.

Over the past several months, there has been much debate about the need to require that food labels state whether they include GMO ingredients. While consumers and food advocates believe the public has a right to know the ingredients they are consuming, food companies believe such labels would be misleading because GMO ingredients do not carry any known medical consequences.

“USDA stands ready to work with Congress to develop a cohesive national system for giving shoppers the information they want to know about foods they are purchasing, without driving up costs or sending the wrong message about the safety of their food options,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

However, genetically-engineered crops may be harmful in a different way. As these plants are typically modified to be strong enough to resist herbicides and pests, this could also lead to herbicide-resistant plants and pests, which could result in “a major agricultural problem,” according to the study.

Furthermore, critics have stated that the research committee did not examine the effects of herbicides on the health of humans. Although the report may demonstrate the lack of medical issues associated with GMOs, additional analyses are needed to determine the personal and environmental effects of herbicides.

“I consider their failure to look seriously at potential health hazards of increased herbicide use to be a serious omission,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Nevertheless, the research committee is hoping that this report does not impede discussion around the topic of genetically-modified foods and labeling laws.

“We’re hoping that our report is not this big tome, but something that starts a conversation,” Gould said to TIME magazine.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, TIME / Photo credit: Jamain/Wikimedia Commons

Tags: agricultural concerns, environmental concerns, GMO, human health, side effects
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