One of my favorite snacks is slices of Granny Smith apple and some sharp cheddar cheese. But as much as I like ’em, as soon as the apple slices turn brown, I just … eh … I know they’re still good, but to be honest, I kind of lose interest.
This month, however, bags of Arctic apple slices are going to be hitting a couple hundred stores in the Midwestern United States. And, thanks to genetic engineering, these apples are staying golden.
Apple slices normally turn brown over time because certain enzymes in their flesh react to the oxygen in the air. But the company that made these new apples used CRISPR, a powerful gene editing tool, to quiet the gene that makes that enzyme. Less enzyme equals less browning.
The new apples are a variation of the Golden Delicious apple and will be sold sliced up in 10-ounce grab bags in about 400 stores in the Midwest.
Though genetically modified ingredients, such as corn or soybeans, are common, fruits are a different matter. Currently, only one kind of genetically modified fruit is sold in the United States — a virus-resistant papaya. The company is hoping that by making the fruit more appealing, they can help persuade people to choose healthier snacks.
“The purpose of Arctic apples is definitely to promote healthy eating, boost apple consumption, and reduce food waste,” the president of the company told the Chicago Tribune.
These are not the first browning-resistant apples available to consumers. Non-genetically modified Opal apples also lack much of the browning enzyme and are currently available to eat.