FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Friends of the Earth, CREDO, and other groups are calling on fast-food restaurants to refuse to source the Arctic® apple, a genetically engineered apple that gained final approval last week from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
“Once again, the USDA and FDA have approved a food product created using a technology that has not undergone rigorous, independent pre-market safety testing,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the OCA and its Mexico-based sister nonprofit, Via Organic. “If restaurants and school systems serve this apple to children, we will be putting those children at risk for no other reason than to provide apples that don’t undergo the natural, and harmless, process of oxidation.”
The Arctic® apple, owned by synthetic biology company Intrexon (NYSE: XON), has been engineered to resist browning when sliced. The experimental technology used to accomplish this is RNAi (RNA interference), which involves silencing the enzyme in the apple that causes it to turn brown, or oxidize, when sliced.
Last month, the new genetically engineered Arctic Apple® was approved by the USDA to enter the U.S. market, allowing the Arctic® apple to be planted and sold without specific oversight.
Consumer outcry over the USDA and FDA’s approval led 10 environmental and consumer organizations, including the OCA, to contact Burger King (NYSE: BKW), Wendy’s Company (NASDAQ: WEN), Subway and Dunkin’ Brands (NASDAQ: DNKN) for their commitments to not sell the Arctic® apple—which, according to some scientists, may pose numerous environmental, health and economic risks.
The OCA also called on McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD), which last year said it had “no plans” to source the apple, to reconfirm its commitment to not selling it.
The USDA and FDA approvals were based solely on company data, and came despite the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel raising critical questions about the safety of RNAi technology when used for pest control purposes, and requesting more data in order to answer these questions.
Like other GMOs, this genetically engineered apple won’t be labeled as GMO and won’t have undergone independent safety assessment.
Arctic® apple was genetically engineered to suppress the enzymes which cause it to brown when cut; a natural indicator of freshness. However, browning in apples can be prevented using lemon juice or other natural sources of vitamin C; making this genetically engineered apple unnecessary. In addition, a new certified organic, non-GMO, non-browning apple, the Opal Apple developed using traditional cross-breeding, is currently available at leading grocery retailers.
Scientists believe that the natural browning enzyme in apples may help to fight diseases and pests, meaning that famers may have to increase their pesticide use on these new GM apples. Non-organic apples already carry some of the highest levels of toxic pesticide residues, many of them linked to hormone disruption, reproductive harm and ADHD.
Note to editors: Letters sent to fast food companies from Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, Food Democracy Now!, Food & Water Watch, Green America, GMO Inside, Healthy Child Healthy World, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network and CREDO are here: Burger King, Wendy’s Company, Subway and Dunkin’ Brands
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.