In 2011, Health Canada received a submission to allow the sale of a "non-browning" genetically modified apple, called the Arctic apple. In order to determine whether the apple could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured the apple is safe for consumption, still has all its nutritional value and therefore does not differ from other apples available on the market. Our scientists also needed to assess how the apple was developed and whether it can be toxic or cause allergic reactions.
Two varieties of Arctic apple were approved for growth and sale in Canada, the Arctic Golden Delicious and the Arctic Granny Smith. The science behind the Arctic apple is quite simple. A gene was introduced into the Arctic apple that results in a reduction in the levels of enzymes that make apples turn brown when sliced. In every other way, the Arctic apple tree and its fruit are identical to any other apple.
Scientists with expertise in molecular biology, microbiology, toxicology, chemistry and nutrition conducted a thorough analysis of the data and the protocols provided by the applicant to ensure the validity of the results.
Following this assessment, it was determined that the changes made to the apple did not pose a greater risk to human health than apples currently available on the Canadian market. In addition, Health Canada also concluded that the Arctic apple would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of the Arctic apple compared to other traditional apple varieties available for consumption.
Health Canada's assessment of Arctic apple was conducted according to the Guidelines for Safety Assessment of Novel Foods. The approach taken by Health Canada in the safety assessment of GM foods is based upon scientific principles developed through expert international consultation over the last 20 years with agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The approach taken by Canada is currently applied by regulatory agencies around the world in countries such as the European Union, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, and the United States.