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An apple a day that lasts literally a week

Sep. 03, 2012 @ 12:15 AM

Like Dorian Grey, the fictional ageless man whose wrinkled face was invisible to those around him, the newly devised Arctic Apple defies oxygenation, almost never browning. Seems this genetically engineered fruit has had its genes for an apple enzyme that creates browning (polyphenol oxidase, or PPO) replaced with genes for a different enzyme (low-PPO) that doesn't cause browning.

This development has some apple farmers and consumers shaking their heads in dismay: Will it be a way to sell subpar, older apples while making non-genetically engineered apples seem less desirable when there is nothing wrong with them, brown spots and all? Now, when you buy apple slices, they're usually coated in vitamin C or calcium to prevent browning and preserve crispness on the market shelf.

There's a chance for you to let the government know what you think about the Arctic Apple until mid-September. (Google "Federal eRulemaking Portal"; then search "apples browning.") Our opinion: Cross-breeding plants has been going on for years. The Gala apple is a conventional cross between a Golden Delicious and Kid's Orange-Red breed of apple. But genetic cross-breeding is different. And while genetically modified foods are tested for safety, we just don't know the long-term repercussions to plants or to the people who eat them.

If you're concerned: At the grocery store, look for the tag on produce. If it has a five-digit code starting with an 8, this indicates it's genetically modified. And you can find the only third-party verified listing of non-GMO products and foods at nongmoproject.org.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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