Quantcast

«

»

Nov 28 2013

A profane creation

Another thing to have GMO-panic about – an apple that doesn’t turn brown when it’s cut.

In test fields in New York and Washington state stand about 100 trees bearing the Canadian-designed Holy Grail of fruit science: an apple that cannot brown.

But as the Arctic Apple wends its way toward final approval in both the United States and Canada, genetic-engineering alarmists and entrenched apple interests alike are increasingly framing the new fruit as a profane creation of perverted science.

Because if god had meant apples to stay pale when sliced then god would have made them that way. On the other hand it’s the opposite with penises – god doesn’t like the way god made them, so humans have to slice off a bit at the top.

On Nov. 14, the B.C. Fruit Growers Association joined the fray, calling on Ottawa to ban the Arctic Apple before it could even reach final market approval, arguing that even considering the apple was inalterably damaging its business.

“The public thinks of apples as a pure, natural, healthy and nutritional fruit,” said association president Jeet Dukhia in a statement. “GM apples are a risk to our market image.”

Because GMO=impure and unnatural. That of course is despite thousands of years of cultivation and manipulation, which doesn’t count as GMO because people hadn’t heard of genes then. It’s all in the attitude, you see.

 

 

30 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Anthony K

    Fools. The only apple that is a profane creation of perverted science is the McIntosh, and those have been around for 202 miserable, hellish years.

  2. 2
    A. Noyd

    “’The public thinks of apples as a pure, natural, healthy and nutritional fruit,’ said association president Jeet Dukhia in a statement.”

    Let’s force the public to eat wild apples till they figure it out, then.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    Wild apples – [shiver!]

  4. 4
    Anthony K

    Wild apples – [shiver!]

    Around here people seem to like crabapples, suggesting we’re already too far gone to save.

  5. 5
    Eamon Knight

    @1: Only? My understanding is that pretty much all apple culture is done by grafting, and of course crossing to produce new varieties. Why grafting should be considered “pure and natural” but gene-splicing not, well, it’s because the former can be done with nothing but a knife.

  6. 6
    Anthony K

    @1: Only?

    You’re right. I am unaware of any other apple cultivars that require the blood of cacodemons in order to produce their pestilent fruit of 100% pure, mushy, sour, evil (not from concentrate), but there may be more.

  7. 7
    Eamon Knight

    @6: Ah, Macs aren’t your favorite variety, then? ;-) (It’s OK: I prefer Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, even Golden Del if they haven’t got anything else in the bins…..)

    Last gasp of on-topicality: anti-GMO-ists are poopyheads. So there. I now anticipate a full thread derail into discussion of favorite apple varieties, recipes for pies, crumbles, crisps…..

  8. 8
    cuervocuero

    Anthony K, are you on the other side of the religious schism…a Delicious fan? brrr. Gimme Macs any time, preferably the ones fresh off the tree and a decent size.

    The prairie hardy apples (not crabbed apples) would likely not be your cuppa either. they’re tarter and good for pie and preserves.

    But I’m confused about the GMO ‘ever pale’ apples being a ‘first’. For non-browning apples, the apple agribiz already has the “Ambrosia” varietal, which was husbanded out of a mutate seedling, I believe.

  9. 9
    R Johnston

    Because GMO=impure and unnatural. That of course is despite thousands of years of cultivation and manipulation, which doesn’t count as GMO because people hadn’t heard of genes then. It’s all in the attitude, you see.

    Indeed. Agriculture and animal husbandry are defined by the genetic modification of the product. I’ve never understood why some people consider such modification bad because it happens in a lab rather than through selective breeding. There is no difference aside from Luddite concerns.

  10. 10
    Anthony K

    Anthony K, are you on the other side of the religious schism…a Delicious fan?

    I always keep a few Red Delicious on hand for when I’m hiking through avalanche country, to use in case I get buried so deep and for so long I run out of my own urine to drink and need to resort to something less appealing. I wouldn’t say I’m a fan tho.

    Much like Eamon, I prefer the Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, and Ambrosia types. If I want tart preserves, I’ll just spread some Buckley’s on my toast. Tasty AND contains paracetamol—something my body needs anyway.

  11. 11
    chigau (違う)

    I’m stunned.
    I didn’t think Canadians were capable of disliking McIntosh apples.
    Let’s see those passports.

  12. 12
    Eamon Knight

    It’s been a long time since I bought any Macs, but IIRC the quality in Eastern Ontario tends to be highly variable: one batch can be crisp, juicy and sweet; the next mushy or mealy or sour or just tasteless. Hence…it being a long time since I had one, given the availability of the other varieties (I’d forgotten Ambrosia!).

  13. 13
    Z

    *snort* I find knee-jerk Luddite bashing as repulsive as knee-jerk Luddites themselves. Apparently, if you want to flog something to a certain kind of people, you just need to label it “Progress”, and all critical faculties apparently go to sleep. :D

    In this particular case the really fun part is that, by the manufacturer’s own admission, the concern they are addressing is “superficial”. It’s not introduced to produce a nutritional benefit, like Golden Rice, or to cope with adverse soil conditions, or even to be more resistant to pests or pesticides, it’s trying to make a product more conforming to an unrealistic consumer expectation.

    The GMO “debate” (*barf*) suffers from a really bad case of nut poisoning. Since the vehement, scientifically ignorant opinions are both much louder and easier to refute (and mock), valid reservations are easily ignored, drowned out or fail to emerge, as otherwise intelligent people get sucked into the hippie-punching. It’s pretty much reduced to tribal lines now, like AGW, though the tribal lines are different. :)

    (Some, ahem, “critics of feminism” seem to have fallen victim to the same cognitive process: point out the cranks and the bad arguments (each movement has these, in different proportion), present them as the whole movement, and you get people for whom “feminism” is defined by that, and react to every piece of new information accordingly.)

    And speaking of bad arguments:

    Agriculture and animal husbandry are defined by the genetic modification of the product. I’ve never understood why some people consider such modification bad because it happens in a lab rather than through selective breeding. There is no difference aside from Luddite concerns.

    That line of argumentation is bordering on self-defeating. After all, if there is no difference between lab-borne genetic splicing and traditional methods, why it’s necessary in the first place? :P

  14. 14
    Abdul Alhazred

    On the other hand it’s the opposite with penises – god doesn’t like the way god made them, so humans have to slice off a bit at the top.

    In Jewish terms, this explanation is a little bit off. Gentiles don’t have to. It’s a tribal marker.

  15. 15
    suttkus

    @Z:

    *snort* I find knee-jerk Luddite bashing as repulsive as knee-jerk Luddites themselves. Apparently, if you want to flog something to a certain kind of people, you just need to label it “Progress”, and all critical faculties apparently go to sleep. :D

    What, we aren’t supposed to bash Luddites? You can’t label a side “luddite” and then complain about people bashing them. Replace “luddite” with “racist” in the above paragraph and tell me if the results make any sense whatsoever.

    In this particular case the really fun part is that, by the manufacturer’s own admission, the concern they are addressing is “superficial”. It’s not introduced to produce a nutritional benefit, like Golden Rice, or to cope with adverse soil conditions, or even to be more resistant to pests or pesticides, it’s trying to make a product more conforming to an unrealistic consumer expectation.

    Why is that important at all? Apples have been bred for superficial concerns for millenia. Are we suddenly against aesthetics? And if the apple is real, consumer expectations are clearly not unrealistic and never were., QED.

    The GMO “debate” (*barf*) suffers from a really bad case of nut poisoning. Since the vehement, scientifically ignorant opinions are both much louder and easier to refute (and mock), valid reservations are easily ignored, drowned out or fail to emerge, as otherwise intelligent people get sucked into the hippie-punching. It’s pretty much reduced to tribal lines now, like AGW, though the tribal lines are different. :)

    While there are valid reservations regarding how GMO might be used or pursued, there aren’t any about GMO itself, as far as I’m aware. Feel free to educate me instead of claiming the objections are drowned out while not actually providing any.

    That line of argumentation is bordering on self-defeating. After all, if there is no difference between lab-borne genetic splicing and traditional methods, why it’s necessary in the first place? :P

    There’s no difference in the results, but one is clearly faster. Seriously?

  16. 16
    Pierce R. Butler

    Just what kind of enzymatic jiggery-pokery does it take to halt a process so basic as oxidation?

    Somebody’s playing with some serious geneticochemistry here, folks.

  17. 17
    sailor1031

    Screw all those delicious crosses – gala etc……..and double screw those mushy, tasteless McIntoshes. Where are the Jonathans, Baldwins and Winesaps? where the russets and greenings? You know – real apples! Where the Cox’s orange pippins anymore? I’m from Ontario and I wouldn’t give jack shit for an Ontario apple – anymore than for an Ontario wine!!

  18. 18
    theobromine

    I’ll pop up to defend Ontario apples – this year I have had Russets, Northern Spies, as well as Cortland, Empire, honey crisp, AND McIntoshes that are actually crispy and tasty (hint: don’t buy them from the grocery stores).

    (Of course I would also assert that there is such a thing as a decent Ontario wine these days.)

    And back to being on topic: http://www.nature.com/news/study-linking-gm-maize-to-rat-tumours-is-retracted-1.14268

  19. 19
    brian faux

    “There’s no difference in the results, but one is clearly faster. ”
    Exactly what makes some people wary of the whole affair. A `mutant` strain which we`ve been happily eating for 100 years is easy to trust. A new strain could be dodgy. Remember Thalidomide? (I know its not GMO but that`s not relevant to the layperson)
    Anti GMO beliefs may be mistaken (as I believe) but they are not ludicrous.

  20. 20
    Anthony K

    hint: don’t buy them from the grocery stores

    What, and deal with actual farmers? I live in Alberta—I’m supposed to put my politics aside and deal directly with people who more than likely voted for Ralph Klein just because I want some fresh fruit? What if I catch their conservative cooties? Fuck that noise.

  21. 21
    theobromine

    @Anthony: Now I’m wondering where the grocery store apples in Alberta come from, if not grown by redneck farmers? (Or do the cooties become inactive with the intervening time and space…)

  22. 22
    Anthony K

    @theobromine I figure the cooties dry up and fall off while the apples are being transported in their boxes.

    But the answer to “Now I’m wondering where the grocery store apples in Alberta come from, if not grown by redneck farmers?” is that most of our grocery store fruit comes from British Columbian redneck farmers, a slightly different population.

  23. 23
    Anthony K

    Okay, back on topic.

    “There’s no difference in the results, but one is clearly faster.”
    Exactly what makes some people wary of the whole affair. A `mutant` strain which we`ve been happily eating for 100 years is easy to trust. A new strain could be dodgy. Remember Thalidomide? (I know its not GMO but that`s not relevant to the layperson)
    Anti GMO beliefs may be mistaken (as I believe) but they are not ludicrous.

    Related to this, I think, is that one of the differences between the results from modern GMO technology and those from older techniques of agriculture and animal husbandry is that the former allows us to add genes from much less closely related species. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s not just a matter of speed: genes for fluorescence from jellyfish are unlikely to be transferred into potatoes using older technologies of grafting and selective breeding.

    These are the things that worry people, reasonable or not. (And I really agree with this: “Anti GMO beliefs may be mistaken (as I believe) but they are not ludicrous.”

  24. 24
    Eamon Knight

    !@23: (And I really agree with this: “Anti GMO beliefs may be mistaken (as I believe) but they are not ludicrous.”

    Likewise. *Specific* modifications might be problematic, but that’s always been the case for any technology.

  25. 25
    Anthony K

    And then there’s the story of Klebsiella planticola* that seems to enjoy widespread circulation with not much in terms of verification or refutation.

    *Not that I think that particular link is the most accurate or complete, but because it seems to be widely cited.

    The original research article is here, but behind a paywall.

  26. 26
    Pieter B, FCD

    People who say “Remember Thalidomide?” seem to have forgotten that it was never approved by the FDA, and the pharmacologist who refused to grant approval, Dr Frances Oldham Kelsey, received an award from President Kennedy for doing so. There is now an award named after her that is granted by the FDA; she received the first one in 2010.

  27. 27
    Anthony K

    People who say “Remember Thalidomide?” seem to have forgotten that it was never approved by the FDA

    That’s not strictly true, though I don’t think this detracts from your point about its use in the 60s.

    Thalidomide was approved by the FDA in 2006 for treatment of multiple myeloma in conjuction with dexamethasone. It’s undergoing clinical trials for treatment of other cancers, but must be prescribed according to the System for Thalidomide Education and Prescribing Safety (S.T.E.P.S.®) program, as its teratogenic effects are well known.

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/druginfo/thalidomide

  28. 28
    Pieter B, FCD

    I stand corrected. At the time of the “flipper babies” in the late 1950s, Dr Kelsey stood up to considerable pressure to approve it, but insisted on further testing. I recall being told in the ’80s by an epidemiologist friend that it had some promise in the treatment of Hansen’s DIsease (leprosy), but apparently it is no longer recommended. Other drugs work better and despite precautions, some amount of it gets diverted and birth defects follow. I imagine that the current use is VERY tightly controlled.

  29. 29
    Anthony K

    That small correction aside, thanks for pointing me to the work of Dr. Kelsey. I didn’t know about her or her work with the FDA until your comment, Pieter.

  30. 30
    suttkus

    @brian faux

    November 29, 2013 at 10:23 am (UTC -8)

    “There’s no difference in the results, but one is clearly faster. ”
    Exactly what makes some people wary of the whole affair.

    What does “faster” have to do with it being scary, or anything you write subsequently?

    A `mutant` strain which we`ve been happily eating for 100 years is easy to trust.

    Why? We used asbestos for centuries before anyone noticed it was killing us. There are, undoubtedly, tons of “natural” products on the shelves causing all kinds of problems that have just never been noticed because they are used too broadly for the trends to be spotted. This is just part of humanity’s complete and utter failure to comprehend how statistics work. There’s no financial incentive for most common foods to be tested to see if they are actually doing us any damage, so most never are.

    A worse error here is… what makes you think they’ve stopped using animal husbandry techniques. New natural mutations are incorporated into new strains of product all the time. Untested. If you’re worried about how a transgenic gene stuck into the plant MIGHT be dangerous, you should be equally worried whether the “natural” plant you’re eating has been bred to include some new gene not tested! Nothing much you can do about that, though, and it’s exactly the same risk as GMO. The difference is, GMOs ARE tested, at least somewhat, so, you know, that’s more than you’re getting anywhere else.

    A new strain could be dodgy.

    Everything you eat MIGHT contain a mutant protein and kill you. Worrying about that is a recipe for paranoia, and not much else.

    Remember Thalidomide? (I know its not GMO but that`s not relevant to the layperson)
    Anti GMO beliefs may be mistaken (as I believe) but they are not ludicrous.

    Thalidomide wasn’t approved for use in the USA back in the day, because the FDA wanted it tested more. Natural health pushers kept demanding that it be brought in, and found loopholes around the law so they could bring it into the US, while pressuring the FDA to abandon the science and approve it already. Yeah, I remember Thalidomide. (Not personally, I wasn’t born yet.)

    And I still haven’t heard an objection to GMO itself (as opposed to objecting to specific ways it might be used) that aren’t ludicrous and unfounded, no worse than the risks we take every single day without blinking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite="" class=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>