The U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking for public comment on a risk assessment of a genetically modified non-browning apple.

In August, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ruled that the Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples, varieties grown by Summerland, British Columbia-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., were unlikely to pose a plant health or environmental risk.

Arctics, which are genetically modified to prevent browning, have been grown in field tests in Washington since 2003 and in New York since 2005.

In a notice published in the Nov. 8 Federal Register, APHIS announced it was seeking public comment for its plant pest risk and draft environmental assessments of the Arctics.

Public comments will be received through Dec. 9. This is the second round of public comments on the Arctics. In 2012, in the first round of public comments, 1,935 comment were filed, overwhelmingly in opposition.

The Arctic has generated opposition in the U.S. because of its genetically modified status. On Oct. 31, baby food maker Gerber said it had no plans to use Arctics. On Nov. 1, fast food giant McDonald’s said it had no plans to use them.

In 2011, both the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association and the Yakima, Wash.-based Northwest Horticultural Council urged the USDA to keep the genetically modified variety out of the U.S. over fears of marketing damage to the conventional and organic apple industry.

Neal Carter, Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ president, said that the company expects Arctics to be deregulated by the USDA in early 2014, paving the way for U.S. production.

"We have been advised that the final decision will come shortly after this comment period closes," Carter said. "And based on our conversations with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, we anticipate full deregulation in Canada in early 2014."

Carter said growers in both Canada and the U.S. have shown strong interest in planting Arctics.

"We already have commitments from companies to plant Arctic apples in 2014," he said. "We expect many more acres of Arctic apples to be planted in 2014 and beyond, with small quantities of commercial fruit available beginning in 2015."


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking for public comment on a risk assessment of a genetically modified non-browning apple.

In August, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ruled that the Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples, varieties grown by Summerland, British Columbia-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., were unlikely to pose a plant health or environmental risk.

Arctics, which are genetically modified to prevent browning, have been grown in field tests in Washington since 2003 and in New York since 2005.

In a notice published in the Nov. 8 Federal Register, APHIS announced it was seeking public comment for its plant pest risk and draft environmental assessments of the Arctics.

Public comments will be received through Dec. 9. This is the second round of public comments on the Arctics. In 2012, in the first round of public comments, 1,935 comment were filed, overwhelmingly in opposition.

The Arctic has generated opposition in the U.S. because of its genetically modified status. On Oct. 31, baby food maker Gerber said it had no plans to use Arctics. On Nov. 1, fast food giant McDonald’s said it had no plans to use them.

In 2011, both the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association and the Yakima, Wash.-based Northwest Horticultural Council urged the USDA to keep the genetically modified variety out of the U.S. over fears of marketing damage to the conventional and organic apple industry.

Neal Carter, Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ president, said that the company expects Arctics to be deregulated by the USDA in early 2014, paving the way for U.S. production.

"We have been advised that the final decision will come shortly after this comment period closes," Carter said. "And based on our conversations with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, we anticipate full deregulation in Canada in early 2014."

Carter said growers in both Canada and the U.S. have shown strong interest in planting Arctics.

"We already have commitments from companies to plant Arctic apples in 2014," he said. "We expect many more acres of Arctic apples to be planted in 2014 and beyond, with small quantities of commercial fruit available beginning in 2015."