Aug 11, 2016Preliminary deregulation extended to Arctic Fuji apple
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has publicly shared the final version of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.’s (OSF) petition seeking regulatory approval for Arctic Fuji apples, a nonbrowning variety produced through biotechnology.
In an announcement published Aug. 10, USDA APHIS stated that they have reached a preliminary decision to extend their determination of nonregulated status to OSF’s nonbrowning Arctic Fuji variety. In addition to publishing OSF’s petition, APHIS has also shared their Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact, and Preliminary Extended Determination and Plant Pest Risk Assessment. USDA APHIS will initiate a public comment period in the coming days, during which time the public is encouraged to submit their input on Arctic Fuji apples for APHIS’ review.
OSF’s petition contains data on the introduction and testing of the nonbrowning trait in Fuji variety apples but differs from the petition submitted for OSF’s initial varieties, Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden, because it is considered an extension. The nonbrowning trait in OSF’s Arctic Fuji variety is no longer considered unique in apples, as APHIS has previously evaluated potential impacts of this trait and how it is introduced, concluding that these varieties are just as safe for consumers and the environment as conventional apples.
In Arctic apples, gene silencing is used to suppress the apple’s expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), the enzyme involved in browning when the fruit is bruised, bitten or cut. This virtually eliminates PPO production, so in turn the fruit does not brown from superficial damage, but will still show discoloration from bacterial or fungal infections and rot just like any apple, according to the company.
OSF submitted its extended petition for nonregulated status of the Arctic Fuji to APHIS in December 2015; APHIS notified the company its petition was complete in April of this year. OSF is currently anticipating commercial introduction of Arctic apple varieties in fall 2017.
“Our main goal is to increase apple consumption and reduce waste,” said Neal Carter, OSF founder and president. “By removing the ‘yuck’ factor, more apples get eaten and fewer get thrown away. It helps reduce the load on the environment and families’ pocket books.”