A new genetically modified apple that doesn’t brown when cut open or bruised finally has been cleared to be grown in the U.S.

An arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday — after a three-year wait — that the Okanagan Specialty Fruit’s Arctic Apple in Golden and Granny varieties doesn’t pose any harm to other plants or pests. The apple won’t be at grocery stores yet, though this was its last major regulatory hurdle. The company is still waiting on the conclusion of a voluntary review by the FDA before the apple can enter the market place.


Most apples start browning when the flesh is exposed to air or damaged. But the Canadian company behind the Arctic Apple says its browning-free variety will mean less food waste, more uses for cut apples and the preservation of nutrients.


Okanagan can now provide its trees to growers to ramp up production so the apple can make it to market and potentially get picked up for use by consumers, restaurant chains and grocery stores.


The apples could find their way into millions of Happy Meals and sit out on salad bars — without having been sprayed with citric acid, which is how they are kept from browning now.


Small companies and universities have been hesitant to go through the USDA process for taking genetically engineered foods to market because approvals take so long — and the products aren’t making any money in the meantime. But the apple’s approval could be a test case that could spur the industry on.


The biotechnology space is the domain of large companies, like Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta. For a small company that lacks lobbyists and political clout “to actually break into this arena is challenging and to be unnecessarily delayed is impediment enough that folks will say ‘why would I go down that path.’” said Jennifer Armen, Okanagan’s marketing director.


But the approval of a genetically modified apple for mass consumption also stokes the debate about GMOs, which have spawned legislation and regulation throughout the country.


Originally Published: Politico