Thursday, July 22, 2010

Franken-Apples?

These small, tart green apples are called Lodi and have shown up at the market this season for the first time. They are prized mostly because they are the first apple of the season. I like how tart they are, they make a great cooking apple in the same vein as Granny Smith and I enjoy eating them, but if you aren't into sour you would find them a challenge.

So anyway, the other day I was talking to a farmer and we struck up a conversation about these apples with me commenting on how I'd never seen them before. He launched into a discussion about how they are genetically modified. My jaw fell open and I stuttered something about how I thought apple breed were developed by grafting or by cross pollination. I had never heard of a GMO apple and seeing as how I already had purchased several pounds of Lodi's I was flummoxed as to what I was going to do with them, given I don't buy or support the genetic modification of food plants.

When I got home I tried to take some scary pictures of these apples and write a post about the insidious Monsanto and the evils of GMO's. However what happened after the apple photo shoot was a pleasant surprise, my first on line search lead me to a European website called GMO-compass it talks about all the blights apples attract and says:

several institutes, including institutes in Europe, are working on developing new possibilities for plant defense using genetic engineering

Mmmmmmm I think and continue reading....

Very few of these projects have been tested in the field. Most are still at the laboratory or greenhouse stage. If these genetic engineering approaches actually prove to be effective and the derived fruit prove to be healthy and safe, a large amount of fungicides and other spraying could potentially be avoided.

Yeah right, how about crop diversification? How about dealing with the issue of how growing fruit in mono cultures doesn't work?

Grumble, grumble, grumble...steam coming out of my ears....but then!

As of yet, no genetically modified apples have been approved anywhere in the world.

I look at the top of the page and see the date July 22 2010 and think the farmer is just mistaken, but then I notice at the bottom of the page that this article was written in 2006.

So I keep looking and am reassured by CopperWiki which states:

Apples -- Genetically modified apples have so far not been approved anywhere in the world. Though approval is not likely in the next few years, GM apple field tests will continue increasing. Several field trials are under way in the US and the EU. Insect resistant transgenic apples with delayed softening and longer shelf life are being developed in the US. Such apples can be ripened on the tree. Currently apple growers face different types of diseases connected with the fruit. These include fire blight, apple scab, and powdery mildew. Fire blight, which is highly contagious, along with fungal diseases like apple scab and powdery mildew, has been causing significant losses in recent years.

So OK it is still safe to go into the orchard! Or at the very least into the apple sellers stall at the Green Market and try out these new, tasty, tart first of the season apples.

2 comments:

PWR said...

I thought that Lodi was an older variety. I've not seen them much (ever?) in the NYC market, even if Lodi, NJ, is (I assume) what they're named for. Farmer informant might have been mistaken.

http://www.grandpasorchard.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=trees.plantDetail&plant_id=68

Urban Food Guy said...

Yes indeed, mistaken about the GMO, but also as you point out mistaken by saying they are "new" thanks for the link!

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