Arctic Apples

Arctic apple is the trademark for a group of patented apples that contain a nonbrowning trait (when the apples are subjected to mechanical damage, such as slicing or bruising, the apple flesh remains as its original color)[1][2] introduced through biotechnology.[3] They were developed through a process of genetic engineering by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.[4][5] Specifically, gene silencing reduces the expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), thus delaying the onset of browning.[6] It is the first genetically engineered apple to be approved for commercial sale, though Innate potato varieties that were improved through biotechnology have also been approved for sale in the United States.[7] The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Government of Canada in 2017, determined that Arctic apples are as safe and nutritious as conventional apples.[7][8] In 2019, product sales of the Arctic apple were expected in the United States, by evidence of sales plans for foodservice.[9]

Nonbrowning method

Developing nonbrowning Arctic apples relies upon a technique called RNA interference (RNAi).[10] This approach enables silencing of PPO expression to less than 10% of its normal expression, but does not change other aspects of the apple.[3] The RNAi process is accomplished through the use of a transgene that uses gene sequences that control PPO production.[2] Promoter and terminator gene sequences are used to support the implementation of PPO suppression genes, as is a marker gene which produces a protein (called NPTII) that makes the plant tissue resistant to the antibiotic kanamycin, allowing transformed plants to metabolize neomycin and kanamycin antibiotics.[11] This step is used to confirm that silencing PPO was successful.[3]

Regulatory approval and safety

Okanagan Specialty Fruits received regulatory approval for two apple varieties in Canada from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada[12] and in the US from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of the United States Department of Agriculture.[2] Varieties that have received U.S. approval include Arctic Golden (called GD743) and Arctic Granny (GS784) in 2015,[13] and Arctic Fuji (NF872) in 2016.[14] Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny varieties were both approved in Canada in 2015.[15] The Arctic Fuji (NF872) was approved in Canada in 2018.[16] Approval of the apple was opposed by GE Free BC and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.[17] Approval of the apples was opposed by some tree fruit associations, such as the BC Fruit Growers' Association[18] and Northwest Horticultural Council (Washington State).[19] Opposition of associations was based on concern about market backlash, not on safety of the product.

The US FDA stated that the safety evaluation of Arctic apples "ensures that food safety issues were resolved prior to commercial distribution",[7] and the Government of Canada stated "that the genetically modified 'Arctic apple' is as safe for humans, livestock and the environment as conventional apples."[8]


As of late 2017, the Arctic Golden variety began retail sales as packaged, preservative-free apple slices.[20] Packaging bears Arctic branding including their "snowflake" logo[21] and a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to inform consumers about the safety and non-browning benefits via the company website.[22]

In 2019, some 8 million pounds (3.6 million kg) of Arctic apples were produced for the United States market with plans for expanded sales in foodservice.[9]


  1. "Questions and Answers: Okanagan Specialty Fruits' Non-Browning Apple (Events GD743 and GS784)" (PDF). USDA APHIS. July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  2. "Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status: Arctic™ Apple (Malus x domestica) Events GD743 and GS784" (PDF). USDA APHIS. 21 February 2012.
  3. "PPO silencing". Okanagan Specialty Fruits. 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  4. Lehnert, R. (January 15, 2011). "Firm seeks approval for transgenic apple". Good Fruit Grower. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
  5. Milkovich, M. (April 29, 2011). "Non-browning apples cause controversy". Fruit Growers News.
  6. James Vincent (19 January 2017). "The first GMO non-browning apples will go on sale in the US next month". The Verge. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  7. "Okanagan Specialty Fruits: Biotechnology Consultation Agency Response Letter BNF 000132". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. March 20, 2015. Archived from the original on October 31, 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  8. "Questions and answers: Arctic Apple". Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Government of Canada. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  9. "U.S.: GM non-browning Arctic apple expands into foodservice". Fresh Fruit Portal. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  10. Waltz, Emily (30 March 2015). "Nonbrowning GM apple cleared for market : Trade Secrets". tradesecrets.
  11. "Event Name: GS784". International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  12. "Notice of Submission for Approval of Novel Food, Livestock Feed and Unconfined Environmental Release for Apple Genetically Engineered To Be Nonbrowning (GD743 and GS784) from Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc". Canadian Food Inspection Agency. April 15, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
  13. "USDA Announces Deregulation of Non-Browning Apples" (PDF). USDA APHIS. 13 February 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 January 2017.
  14. "Extended Determination of Nonregulated Status for Okanagan Specialty Fruits Non-Browning Arctic Apple" (PDF). USDA APHIS. 2016.
  15. "Arctic Apple Events GD743 and GS784". Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  16. Canada, Health. "Arctic Fuji Apple Event NF872 -". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  17. Shore, Randy (February 25, 2015). "What is a genetically modified Arctic apple?". Times Colonist. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  18. McLeod, Wendy (23 March 2015). "Approval of GMO Apple Opposed by BC Fruit Growers' Association". Kelowna Now. Kelowna Now. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  19. Wilhelm, Steve (26 July 2012). "Non-browning GMO apple resisted by Washington state growers associations". Puget Sound Business Journal. Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  20. Molteni, Megan (November 22, 2017). "Would You Put the Genetically Modified Arctic Apple in Your Pie?". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  21. "The Benefits of Arctic Apples". Arctic Apples. Okanagan Specialty Fruits. 2017.
  22. Gerlock, Grant (1 February 2017). "Why The Arctic Apple Means You May Be Seeing More GMOs At The Store". National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved 20 February 2017.
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