Watch: The Journey to Harvest

A 20 year journey has led to the first commercial harvest of Arctic® apples. Hear what OSF Founder, Neal Carter, and former Intrexon CEO, Geno Germano, think of this momentous occasion. Watch our story below or on Youtube.


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  1. Anonymous

    The use of dsRNA in the Genetic Modification of your Arctic Golden Delicious Apples is reckless and should be examined much deeper. The short and long term affect of the consumption of genetically modified organisms who’s DNA has been targeted by dsRNA to turn off certain genes (be in the DNA coding that tell an apple to turn brown and start the decaying process) is still very unclear. Studies have shown how similar situations have created a massive affect on the DNA of honeybees. A closer look at the potential for this product to have any adverse affect(s) on human DNA (or the DNA of any/all organisms who consume it) should be weighed heavier.

    • Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for sharing your concerns! We have received questions on dsRNA and honeybees in the past, and it is indeed a complex issue. Therefore, please excuse the length of the reply below:

      For dsRNA to silence any bee or human genes there would have to be homology with the genes used to control production of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), the enzyme responsible for apple browning. There is no homology to human or bee transcriptomes, thus no RNA targets exist. This is important as a major advantage of RNAi is that it mandates a high degree of sequence specificity. The RNAi (which utilizes dsRNA) in Arctic apples was designed to achieve high taxonomic specificity thus limiting the potential for adverse effects in non-target organisms (Whyard et al., 2009; Bachman et al., 2013). There are also numerous biological barriers as well as inherent sensitivity of the organisms to ingested dsRNA (Whyard et al., 2009).

      Some other key points about RNAi & dsRNA:
      – dsRNAs present in GM food do not have different properties or pose a greater risk than those already naturally abundant in foods (Parrott et al., 2010). In fact, naturally occurring nucleic acids are ubiquitous in all organisms including those consumed by animals, insect, and humans.
      – Biotech products using RNA-based gene regulation have been commercially available for over a decade with no reported adverse effect.
      – With RNAi, base pair specificity allows for the highly-specific targeted gene suppression that greatly reduces potential impact on non-target organisms.
      – It is highly improbable that there would be any effect from ingestion of dsRNAs by humans or animals due to the numerous biological barriers to ingested nucleic acids including digestion, absorption, distribution (systemic circulation) and targeting (cell uptake) .
      – Claims of stability of RNA in the environment are not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, it has been experimentally determined environmental dissipation of RNA occurs in one to two days.
      – Conventional traits derived via RNA-based gene regulation (for example, green corn stalks and buff colored soybean coat) have been widely consumed for an extended period of time.
      – All unprocessed foods derived from animals and plants contain thousands of dsRNAs. A subset of these has perfect complementarity to sequences from humans, yet there’s no evidence of any adverse effects resulting from consumption of dsRNA.
      – RNA in biotechnology-derived crops is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
      – RNAi is an important endogenous function in all plants.

  2. anonymous

    Why would you delete a comment made requesting more testing and more data be shared with the public regarding your use of dsRNA in genetic modification of your “fruit” be made public and you disclose the information regarding current research that proves consumption of GMO products altered with dsRNA can in FACT have a DIRECT affect on the DNA of the organisms which consume it? WHY WOULD YOU REMOVE A COMMENT MADE BY THE PUBLIC ON YOUR WEBSITE EXPRESSING CONCERN IF YOUR GOAL WAS NOT TO SUPPRESS THIS INFORMATION TO PROTECT YOUR PROFITS RATHER THEN PROTECTING HUMANITY. Your intentions have been exposed.

    WE ARE ANONYMOUS. WE ARE LEGION. WE DO NOT FORGIVE. WE DO NOT FORGET. EXPECT US.

    • Anonymous,

      Just to clarify, your previous comment made earlier this morning (addressed above) was never deleted. We are always happy to respond to genuine questions or concerns, including your question about dsRNA. Like many websites, however, we must review and approve comments before they go live, and do so in order to ensure no spam, swearing, etc. makes it through. We have a small team working hard, but please allow 24-48hrs for responses here (we’ll usually be quicker than that, though) or feel free to email us directly at [email protected].

      Thanks,
      Joel

  3. Anonymous

    Could you please relate your comments above pertaining to RNAi (RNA Interference) and dsRNA to these articles?

    https://academic.oup.com/nar/article/33/suppl_2/W589/2505570/dsCheck-highly-sensitive-off-target-search
    https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/012814minutes.pdf
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773866/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4945638/

    Sorry to get to detailed however, to quote one Oxford paper*:
    *see: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article-lookup/doi/10.1525/bio.2013.63.8.8

    “The rapid development of RNAi applications has challenged scientists to identify and fill key knowledge gaps that underlie the environmental implications of large-scale, pesticidal RNAi-based crops. Much of what we know regarding RNAi comes from the field of functional genomics and the development of gene therapies within individual organisms or even within a specific tissue. How specific small RNAs affect diverse nontarget communities merits further attention, especially in light of the frequent off-target effects of siRNAs within a single target organism. New technologies involved in food web analysis and next-generation sequencing are likely to facilitate the development of risk-assessment frameworks for RNAi-based crops, particularly by honing the relative exposure levels experienced by members of the nontarget community. Because RNAi effects are sequence-based, proactive identification of species with sequences homologous with putative small RNAs for use in pest control could expedite the selection of small RNAs that balance the maximum effects on the target pests with the minimal effects on nontarget organisms. For example, if an organism does not have the genetic sequences that small RNAs can affect, even maximum exposure doses will not result in hazard. Therefore, targeting genes for pest management that are inherently tied to a single species’ biology (e.g., detoxification pathways, developmental regulatory hormones, or mate-finding signals) may reduce the likelihood of silencing a target gene in a nontarget organism. The flexibility, adaptability, and demonstrated effectiveness of RNAi technology indicate that it will have an important place in the future of pest management, but these benefits should be viewed in light of the relative environmental risks that the technology poses.” -This is in reference to the common GMO (Herbicide or Pesticide Resistance Modification). What your company has created is a DIRECT Modification of the Gene Traits of the actual FRUIT by silencing said traits. Effectively telling the plaints DNA to no release PPO (polyphenol oxidase) enzymes in the chloroplasts which starts the oxidization process. Thus you are changing the natural oxidation process (currently a job done with the use of Vitamin C for pre-sliced apples which slows this process for about 21 days).

    “Pavlath and his team first began working on ways to preserve fresh cut fruit in 1986. When cut, an apple undergoes a series of physiological changes. Its cells break down and the flesh is no longer protected from the atmosphere. Oxygen introduced to the cut surface and damaged tissue causes certain enzymes to oxidize phenolic compounds that are naturally present in the apple. This produces “o-quinones” which in turn react with proteins and amino acids to produce brown-colored compounds. Pavlath’s key discovery was that certain calcium salts protect cut apple flesh from color, texture or taste changes. Combining these salts with vitamin C, the researchers produced a carefully calibrated formulation that would serve as a rinse for fresh-cut apples. Once dipped or sprayed, the apple slices have a 21-day shelf-life without browning or losing their crispness.” -Fobers 2013
    Ref. link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2013/09/30/the-best-thing-since-sliced-bread-sliced-apples-that-stay-fresh-for-weeks/#77887f9370ad

    *THE NEED FOR MORE RESEARCH IS CLEAR:
    “dsRNAs are remarkably stable in the environment; a property perhaps overlooked based on the relative instability of single stranded species of RNA (Parrott et al., 2010). Insects and worms that feed on plants that make dsRNA can take in the dsRNA through their digestive system, where it remains intact (Gordon and Waterhouse, 2007 and Mao et al., 2007). RNAi has been induced through oral exposure in several insect pests (Chen et al., 2010 and Whyard et al., 2009) and oral exposure to dsRNA has been shown to reduce the lethal effects of the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus on honey bees (Maori et al., 2009). Worms can absorb dsRNA through their skin when dsRNA is suspended in liquid (Cogoni and Macino, 2000 and Tabara et al., 1998). Once taken up, the dsRNA can circulate throughout the body and alter gene expression in the animal (Mello and Conte, 2004). In some cases, the dsRNA taken up is further amplified or causes a secondary reaction that leads to more and different dsRNAs (“secondary” dsRNAs) with unpredictable targets (Baum et al., 2007 and Gordon and Waterhouse, 2007). They also readily transfer to mammals through food where they can circulate in blood and alter gene expression in organs (Hirschi, 2012 and Zhang et al., 2012a).” -Science Direct
    Ref. link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412013000494

    Lastly, another thing to consider in relation to the pre-sliced apple and whole apple products is what consumers will do with your products that no longer turn brown when they naturally should? When the fruit has been dead long enough to want to naturally decompose and now humans EAT it? Additionally, what about any bacteria that may form on the apples if a child or parents waits too long to server the apples to them? There are so many factors to consider and it is the hope of all mankind that ANY/ALL PROPER CONSIDERATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE.

    • Jessica Brady

      Hello Anonymous,
      Thank you for your passion related to this subject, it is clearly very important to you. Many of the articles sited above are referring specifically to RNAi as a method of pest management. Because Arctic® apples have no novel pest management traits, there is not a risk of off-target species effects related to such. As well, though alternative points of view are an important part of science, the majority of the scientific community agrees that GM foods, including RNAi technology, is safe for consumers and the environment.
      Have a good day,

      Jessica

  4. Cory Christensen

    I am glad I am living in the Midwest and hope to find these apples in my market soon. I can’t wait to give them a try.

    • Jessica Brady

      Hi Cory!

      Thanks so much for your support! We’re excited for people such as yourself to get to enjoy Arctic® apples, hopefully they will be in a store near you once we begin our commercial sales. You can keep an eye on our Find Our Apples page to stay in the loop: http://www.arcticapples.com/find-our-apples/

      Have a great day,

      Jessica

  5. Cindy

    This produce is untested and therefore unsafe (imho). I hope you will label them so those of us who are wary have the opportunity to choose if we want to eat them or not. Our family of five eats apples on a daily basis and have never, ever had a problem or issue with browning. If an apple is bruised it is damaged; “covering up” the damage or even rot (as in when an apple turns brown) is not what we want or desire. If an apple is damaged, we more than likely will cut the damaged part off. If I cut into an apple and the entire apple has started to brown, I do not want to eat it and I don’t want my family to eat it – not because it’s brown but because the apple is beginning to rot at this point. And lastly, once we cut an into apple – we eat it, which avoids browning (they don’t brown in seconds, after all). In all cases, I feel it is irresponsible to take this natural property away from any food – especially knowing that your intention is not because apples are thrown away, but in truth, for profit.

    And I would like to point out for other readers who are “excited” about this food; when this employee states in her reply, ” the majority of the scientific community agrees that GM foods, including RNAi technology, is safe for consumers and the environment,” she is providing an answer on behalf of her employer. (It is very easy to search “scientists against gmo’s to find a list of scientists along with their research and reasons for not jumping on the “gm praise” bandwagon.) Lobbyists have paid to peddle this type of disinformation to politicians for years all in the name of profit because, in reality, these foods are untested in our environment; and when a food is untested – THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW IF IT IS SAFE OR NOT. How these foods will affect people and the environment around is not known. Consider the case of Monsanto’s gm corn… the seeds “fly” into neighboring farms, and then the small farmer gets ruined defending themselves against Monsanto’s lawsuits for unlicensed use of a gm seed the farmer did not want in the first place. Using any type of biotechnology in our food system is simply a way for a corporation to control a food and the profits that come with it. The original hype of GM foods was to fight hunger, yet hunger not only still exists, but food has become even more expensive. Please understand these realities and research them yourself before blindly becoming “excited” about a food that has no safety record and could possibly harm us and damage the world WE ALL live in.

    • Hi Cindy,
      Thanks for your comment, it’s clear you’re very passionate about food – as are we!
      To address some of your questions/concerns:
      o Arctic® apples are indeed tested, and are likely the most tested apple in existence in fact! To satisfy the rigorous regulatory requirements in the U.S. and Canada, years of data was collected by third party horticultural specialists at multiple Arctic® apple field trials. This data is freely available to the public here: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/10_16101p.pdf
      o That’s great to hear you and your family eat so many apples and are not turned off by bruising! Unfortunately, many consumers are pickier, and retailers even more so. Even the slightest bruise will typically cause an apple to be downgraded or outright thrown away before it even reaches a consumer. At least 40% of apples that are grown end up wasted, and Arctic® apples can significantly reduce the number of apples that are wasted due to superficial browning. (http://www.arcticapples.com/waste-not-want-not/)
      o In terms of rot, however, Arctic® apples will still show discoloration from meaningful damage such as fungal or bacterial infection. So, they actually make it easier to judge the true quality of fruit. (http://www.arcticapples.com/arctic-apples-help-show-fruits-true-quality/)
      o As for Arctic® apples’ safety, not only does all the data collected linked to above help demonstrate their nutrition, how the grow in orchards, etc. is comparable to conventional counterparts, our staff and families have literally eaten hundreds of Arctic® apples ourselves! The analysis tools available are incredibly comprehensive and we can see the full nutritional composition of our apples through these tests. All we’ve done is reduced the amount of polyphenol oxidase in Arctic® apples, and the amount of this enzyme varies quite a bit between even conventional varieties.
      o To declare that “any type of biotechnology in our food system is simply a way for a corporation to control a food and the profits that come with it” is simply not true. There are countless examples of university researchers working on all manner of biotech crop with wide ranging benefits like disease resistance, enhanced nutrition, etc. And even in our own case, our founder Neal Carter has been an apple grower for decades, and got to work developing nonbrowning apples as a way to address declining apple consumption and help reduce food waste. For the vast majority of OSF’s history, we have had less than 10 employees, and most of us have been deeply involved in agriculture our own lives. For example, my colleague Jessica (commented above) previously worked for a non-profit in agriculture education and lives on a farm with her partner. I personally grew up in the Okanagan Valley and every summer I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work in orchards hands-on helping to grow, pick and pack delicious, healthy fruit that’s shipped all over the world. We are passionate people who know we have a product that can get more people eating more apples while reducing waste, and we think that these are goals everyone can get behind!

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