Sunday, 21 April 2013

cultivar or arctic blast

The latest tipping of the apple-cart is coming in the form, with already untold reach, of a genetic masterwork in the form of an apple that does not brown when bitten into or sliced up, and incorporating the hardiest traits of all natural apple varieties, can fall quite far from the tree, suited to grow in any climate from the orchards of New England to California to the Russian Far-East.

Fast-food chains, school cafeteria and workplace canteens, not to mention grocery store aisles without much in the way of mandatory disclosure or labeling-requirements, have eagerly adopted these shiny, perfect fruits with an extended shelf-life, constituted in such a way as to avoid independent testing and vetting for safety. The apple’s base genetic material is not altered, its DNA, but rather messenger RNA, the component cleaved from DNA that communicates to the powerhouses of cells what proteins to produce and when, has been modified to turn off the browning function, which I suppose is like clotting to fruit. It sounds rather dangerous to switch something like that off. Arctic is the registered name for the engineered produce, I suppose because it stays white. I wonder what they’ll call the run-away “the royal disease.”