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News report on the approval of GMO apples. © 2015
The world’s first GM apples that don’t turn brown when cut or bruised have just been approved for consumption by the US government. These apples have been created with the consumer in mind since brown or bruised fruit is unappealing. However, Okanagan also points out that browning costs each link in the supply chain, thus solving this issue can offer savings on the farm, at the packaging phase, in shops and also in foodservice. 

The reason that apples go brown when sliced or bruised is because the injury introduces oxygen into the flesh of the fruit. When this happens, an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) reacts with certain ingredients in the tissue called phenolic compoundsoxidizingthem to a precursor molecule that then gets converted into a brown-colored secondary product.

To prevent this from happening, Okanagan scientists engineered their Arctic apples so that they produce significantly less of the PPO enzyme. But rather than snipping out the DNA segments that are responsible for this oxidation, they actually added in extra copies of the PPO genes which cause the apple to respond by switching off the lot of them. Of course, the apples can still go brown from rotting, but the immediate browning reaction is thwarted.

What do you think?

About the author

View full profile Jérôme Lutz from Berlin & Munich, Germany

I like to share the great things I discover daily while researching and working in the field of Synthetic Biology.

When I talk to people about it, they often refer to Science Fiction. However, when I send them links to this wiki and they read through those pages, they start understanding that this is real and it's happening right now.