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First GMO apple seeking approval

Posted by harvestman 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 21, 14 at 17:13

Well, actually the breeders are seeking approval of the Arctic Apple, not the apple itself, and I received a letter today from a large commercial grower in Washington State asking me to join in an effort to reject its release. Arctic is apparently the first GMO apple to seek approval for commercial release.

The fear isn't about health consequences but instead about economic consequences because trees pollinated by Arctic will be classified as having GMO fruit although only the seeds will be affected.

In other words, the same deal as traditional corn being next to GMO corn- except one eats corn seeds. It is primarily the fear that consumers will reject apples that have been contaminated in this way that is spurring this campaign.

Damn, and I was looking forward to GM varieties that were repellent to plum curculio and scab.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

Yeah, this came across my radar about a month ago.
For others, the arctic apple uses a GM technique involving gene suppression, as opposed to adding genetic material from a new source.
They are suppressing the production of the enzyme that causes flesh browning/oxidation....not really the most pressing problem in apple production


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

It's for the convenient pre-slice market then. So useful- no messy core.

Does help sell apples though.


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

GMO is here to stay and down the road it will benefit mankind.
It's just that in the beginning something can and will go wrong but this is part of learning.
Think more research needs to be done before release.
There has to be hundreds of questions...
Some ...
Isn't the enzymes in apples what makes them so healthy, take them away then what?
How long will it take then for apples to rot on the ground and will they give back the same amount of nutrient microbes to the soil etc. etc.


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

> GMO is here to stay and down the road it will benefit mankind.

I'm curious, what basis is there -- and I hope you're wise enough to recognize that the value of science isn't a question that science is going to answer for you; surely you're answering what's a philosophical question -- for saying GMO will benefit mankind long-term? I'm inclined to think that no one can very intelligently say what the long-term value of GMO's will be to mankind, but in any case, I suspect statements like the one above must boil down to what you want to believe rather than anything objective. Perhaps I'm wrong. If there's any comprehensive objective basis for believing it, that could be an interesting discussion.

I can think of at least a couple counter-arguments. One is the potential for intentional genetic terrorism/warfare. Isn't it a law of thermodynamics that it's a lot easier to mess things up than put them in order? Why wouldn't GMO's likewise lend themselves more easily to evil than good? GMO's might not ever be used for terrorism or warfare, but if we're betting on the long-term value, there's certainly that possibility and we'd have to factor that in.

Another counter-argument could come from simply following the trail of money and control. GMO's are surely facilitating a kind of colonialism by biotech companies of rural communities. In other words, non-resident "experts" are claiming a larger and larger share of agricultural sector profit, "experts" whose interests aren't tied to any particular place at all. Perhaps the number of farmers in places like America (and Canada and Switzerland...) is already too small and marginal to be of any real significance, such that control of our land and watersheds and food supply is already overwhelmingly controlled by profits and politics and giving more power to profits and politics won't make any difference, but on the other hand, there are changes that will take generations to fully play out, and things will continue to change in the meantime, so there's room for hoping in the value of community owned and controlled technologies in the face of GMO's, which we can be pretty sure will always be the domain of the "1%". The people that get their water from the Elk River in West Virginia wouldn't be in the situation they're in right now if they hadn't consented to the kind of corporate colonialism that defines West Virginia.

That's all to say nothing (yet) of the much hyped (and perhaps appropriately so) possibility of an unforeseen Pandora's box. There's plenty of precedent for that. Scientists thought they could mess with Africanized bees in Brazil without "killer bees" killing pets and livestock and even people in the United States. Conservation people with tunnel vision thought that kudzu would be a good thing for the South. What about global warming? Not to open that debate, but if you're one of the people that believes global warming is seriously threatening global disaster, then I think you have to recognize the potential for new technology to present potentially catastrophic consequences that only future science will diagnose for us. Wendell Berry wrote of those "quite comfortably unaware that many of the calamities from which science is expected to save the world were caused in the first place by science--which meanwhile is busy propagating further calamities, hailed now as wonders, from which later it will undertake to save the world. Nobody, so far as I have heard, is attempting to figure out how much of the progress resulting from this enterprise is net. It is as if a whole population has been genetically deprived of the ability to subtract."


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

Splicing genes in to cure cystic fibrosis is just down the road, also diabetes, no doubt GM technology will save mankind. The work with stem cells especially adult stem cells looks very promising.
I think GM technology is the greatest tool mankind ever discovered. .


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

>Isn't the enzymes in apples what makes them so healthy,
>take them away then what?

All the information about the importance of enzymes in food is from infomercials, magazine articles, and blogs. If anyone here has any real references to research demonstrating the importance of enzymes in food, please post them

>How long will it take then for apples to rot on the ground
>and will they give back the same amount of nutrient >microbes to the soil etc. etc.

Microbes will have no trouble whatsoever decomposing these apples.....they do not depend on enzymes present in the food they consume. Just as they would have no trouble decomposing apples that have been cooked to destroy all the enzymes present.

Alex


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

Diabetes is a perfect example for that Berry quote, "propagating further calamities, hailed now as wonders, from which later it will undertake to save the world." Diabetes is overwhelmingly a disease of the modern diet (and lifestyle) that scientists have developed for us. Diabetes makes a very dubious case for doubling down on GMO's. Even more absurd, I heard someone on the radio -- it might have been the author of a book with a title something like Frankenstein's Cat -- give the example, arguing for the promise and potential of GMO's, of inserting human genes into goats to get goats to express something in their milk that would protect babies from diarrhea, especially (in theory) in parts of the world where diarrhea is often deadly for infants. Only to a scientist (and similarly over-educated fools) would it make more sense to genetically modify goats than to let babies drink their own mamas' milk.

This post was edited by cousinfloyd on Wed, Jan 22, 14 at 16:49


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

"I think GM technology is the greatest tool mankind ever discovered. ."

Agree. Synthetic insulin, penicillin, etc are all GMO products.

The only arguments against GMO are generally based on unfounded fear, or are actually arguments based on a hatred of Monsanto/Corporations instead of the actual technology.


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

I've read through most of the Arctic Apple petition to APHIS by Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Overall what they have done is fairly benign.

Browning in apples and in many other plant products is due to a reaction that takes place when the cells are broken open in the presence of oxygen. There is a large family of enzymes called polyphenol oxidases that oxidize phenolic compounds in the plant tissue turning it brown. They are easily inactivated by heat & acid and can be slowed by chilling. Coating apple slices w/lemon juice (acid) or tossing cut potatoes into water (not exposed to oxygen) stop or slow the browning. As Alex said, the healthful benefits of enzymes is mostly hype/advertising; and anyway these enzymes would be inactivated by your stomach acid. On the flip side, these apples should have slightly higher levels of residual phenolic compounds--this could be good or bad depending on if these are 'healthful' but there shouldn't be a big difference in the levels of the compounds in these apples vs the normal variation in cultivars.

What they actually did was introduce a segment of DNA into the apple genome that will reduce the production of several of the polyphenol oxidases. As an aside, they used a bacterium to introduce the DNA (previously some people expressed concern at using viruses in GMO, although functionally it shouldn't be any more or less worrisome). The DNA sequence they introduced was actually taken from apple DNA so it isn't something new, just in a new configuration that causes interference with they production of the enzymes. These traits wouldn't off a selective advantage in the wild so there isn't much of a threat that the GMO will propagate in the wild any more or less than any other apple cultivar.

Overall I think this is an example of GMO that shouldn't cause much concern--no added herbicide resistance, no added antifungals, no added vitamins, no added growth enhancers, etc. Although I do wonder if it was all that necessary. I'm no economist but I just didn't think apple browning was a huge concern. Cut apples can just be rinsed in ascorbic acid or packed in nitrogen. Now doing a similar thing with pears seems like a much more useful thing.

Here is a link that might be useful: APHIS petition


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

> The only arguments against GMO are generally based on unfounded fear, or are actually arguments based on a hatred of Monsanto/Corporations instead of the actual technology.

The only arguments for GMO are generally based on blind faith in the establishment, or are actually arguments based on a twisted love of Monsanto/Corporations grown out of slavish dependency (something like Winston's love of Big Brother.)


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

I am only in favor of GMO because the Ministry of Truth told me that I am. :)

As we've discussed previously, not all GMO is the same. There are legitimate arguments on both sides, but an all or none approach doesn't appreciate the spectrum of modifications that have been/can be generated. Lumping them all into one group is not appropriate. Certainly there are wrong/irresponsible/unnecessary/greed-driven GMO products, however there are also good & benign modifications.

Examples:
1) Modifying a food plant so that it is insensitive to your company's herbicide -- short-sighted, profit driven, potentially harmful
2) Taking a gene that generates a bioluminescent protein from a jellyfish and putting it into a food plant to make it glow -- unnecessary, profit driven, benign
3) Taking a gene from apple cultivar A and putting into apple cultivar B -- potentially helpful, time saving, benign, (profit driven depending on who did it)


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

> an all or none approach doesn't appreciate the spectrum of modifications that have been/can be generated. Lumping them all into one group is not appropriate.

Your suggestion that GMO's can't be judged categorically is ridiculous. Unintended and unforeseen consequences and accidents will surely happen. We might be able to make more nuanced judgments about specific questions based on what we know, but nuanced judgments make very little sense when we're considering what we don't know (i.e. unintended and unforeseen consequences.) Fukushima wouldn't have happened if the Japanese had chosen "none" on nuclear power as other countries have done. In hindsight proponents of nuclear energy can say that just that particular nuclear power plant shouldn't have been built and the particular safety precautions there weren't sufficient, but those are the kind of things we see clearly only with hindsight. That's not to say they necessarily shouldn't have chosen "all"; Fukushima obviously lost the bet, but one could still argue it was a reasonable bet at the time and there are more winners than losers. On the other hand, a reasonable case could certainly have been made for "none," with the obvious benefits, in hindsight, of avoiding that disaster. This is just to say we should certainly entertain the "all or none" questions of GMO's now.

H'man, you mentioned in the other GMO-related thread, that opposition to GMO's is "faith based." That strikes me as a lame attempt to malign your ideological opponents. If one believes there are things that science doesn't know (or that the scientific establishment could have gotten wrong) and which may prove important, is that to be maligned as "faith based"? Is it not equally "faith based" to believe that the only important questions are the ones that the scientific establishment answers (and that the establishment's answers are all right)?


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

CF, of course you are right, my faith based is your logic based and it is strictly an opinion based perspective. I have sent you an e-mail to respond to your point so that this thread doesn't veer off into another long non-fruit related political debate.


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

Regarding health of enzymes: enzymes are just proteins that do stuff. Some are healthy, some not.

If you chop garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking it, an enzyme in it breaks down some molecule or other and increases it's nutrition. Most enzymes are deactivated when cooked.

If you eat raw egg whites, an enzyme in the egg whites binds to nutrients in the yolk and you essentially miss out on a lot of nutrition. It's a survival mechanism to discourage predators from eating eggs. Luckily, humans learned to cook.

Saying "all enzymes are healthy" is like saying "all natural products are healthy." There are plenty of natural poisons.


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 10:58

"Regarding health of enzymes: enzymes are just proteins that do stuff. Some are healthy, some not. "

With that in mind, I wonder the natural purpose for the enzyme inactivated in the Arctic apple? I know it browns the flesh, but to what end?


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RE: First GMO apple seeking approval

Olpea,

I'm attaching a link to a review article about the PPO enzymes.

The simple answer to your question is that there are many different kinds of PPOs and their functions are pretty diverse and in many cases not fully understood. They aren't specific to plants; they are present in animals, bacteria, fungi, etc. In plants there are many forms of the enzyme and they are found in many different tissues including leaves, flowers, & fruit; but in general are typically thought to be in the chloroplasts.

In plants they have several purposes (some proven, some hypothesized, some correlated); mainly: biosynthesis of certain chemicals, resistance to bacteria & fungi, resistance to certain insect larvae, and stress responses (dehydration & wounds).

In the studies that I've seen, plants which have decreased PPO levels are fully viable, however they seem more susceptible to certain stresses. Understanding the particular functions of how specific PPO family members function in various plant tissues will certainly help in fine tuning which ones are desired/undesired in individual plant tissues (this can be manipulated by GMO or via selective breeding--although this is much slower).

Regardless, as fruitmaven pointed out, these and many other enzymes are inactivated when we eat/digest them.

r

Here is a link that might be useful: Polyphenol oxidases in plants and fungi: Going places? A review


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