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February 19, 2015

USDA approves GMO apples

The genetically-altered fruit doesn't turn brown

Agriculture GMOs
Apples Paul Sakuma/AP

Apples: the biggest pesticide culprit.

We’ve all been there before: You slice up an apple as a snack only to watch the once-crisp wedges turn brown and bruised before your eyes.

 Well there’s good news - unless you’re anti-GMOs - then there’s bad news: The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday approved the country’s first genetically-modified apples, which won’t turn brown. 

For many forward-thinking farmers and food scientists, including Neal Carter, founder and president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the Canadian company that engineered the apples, this is great news.

"This is really huge. It's what we've waited almost five years for with regulatory approval," Carter told CNN in an article announcing the USDA decision last week.

 The Food and Drug Administration is not required to approve genetically engineered crops for consumption. 

 The stamp of approval means the genetically-modified fruit is safe for the environment and the insects that munch on the plants.

 But what about the people?!

 Anti-GMO groups, such as GMO Free Pennsylvania, are opposing the decision, saying the apples – though pretty – are unsafe for human consumption.

 The Food and Drug Administration is not required to approve genetically engineered crops for consumption. Most companies engage in a voluntary safety review process with the FDA.

 In an CNN interview, Mira and Jayson Calton, the husband-and-wife authors of "Rich Food, Poor Food” who launched a petition two years ago to "Say NO to GMO Apples,” said they fear the affects of eating these scientifically-tweaked apples, particular for the younger generations.

 "Obviously, we can't say without a doubt that GMOs are dangerous, but we can say that not enough human studies have been done. We don't want to be the guinea pigs,” says Mira Calton. 

"This particular food is very upsetting because we give it to our children," says Mira Calton. "It's the symbol of health here in America. 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.' "

Carter told CNN he plans to plant 20 acres of trees this spring, which will be ready to be picked by fall 2016.