“….BC and Washington apple growers, both conventional and organic, have already rejected the GM “non-browning” apple and opposition from orchardists has not wavered for over 10 years. The BC Fruit Growers Association opposes the GM apple and early last year the Washington-based Northwest Horticultural Council asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop the GM apple, saying, “The projected commercial benefits of a nonbrowning apple (which we feel are limited) are clearly outweighed by the marketing problems that the entire United States apple industry would confront.”
Okanagan organic orchardist Linda Edwards says, “At best, market awareness that genetically engineered orchards existed in our area would necessitate expensive testing. At worst, it would be loss of market share to areas where the possibility of this contamination could not occur.”
While OSF insists that GM pollen flow will not happen, orchardists like Edwards say, “There is no question that contamination of non-genetically engineered fruit would occur.” The bees that pollinate apple trees can travel a minimum of four miles and while there are factors that can limit pollen spread, they cannot eliminate the risk.
Additionally, if the federal government allows the GM apple onto the market, apple seeds from GM trees and from the contaminated fruit from non-GM trees could pose a contamination risk. If fruit on non-GM trees is pollinated with GM apple pollen, it’s the seed that would contain the patented new gene sequences. Apple trees are propagated by grafting because apple seeds seldom create equal or better apples than the parent, but apple seeds can germinate. To illustrate the risk, Harry Burton, who grows over 120 varieties of organic apples on Salt Spring Island, points out that the apple called Poppy’s Wonder was created when a Cox apple seed was thrown in a compost pile in Victoria, BC. Ironically, the BC Ambrosia apple, which happens to be a naturally slow-browning apple, was a chance seedling found growing in Keremeos, BC….”