Recently, the activist group Friends of the Earth (FOE) published a release entitled, “McDonald’s, Gerber say no to GMO apples.” This post has a number of extremely misleading and downright false statements, which has led to confusion and misunderstanding for readers and media outlets.
In a response to letters FOE sent to their companies, McDonald’s and Gerber (through their parent company, Nestle) replied by explaining they don’t use Arctic® apples and have no current plans to use them in the future. This is 100-percent true, but it certainly does not signify a “rejection” of Arctic apples, and here’s why:
Arctic apples have yet to be approved for commercialization in the U.S. and Canada. Neither company has had an opportunity to test Arctic apples nor are there any apples available for commercial sale.
Apple trees take many years to reach their full yield potential, so even after deregulation, there will not be sufficient quantities for either of these companies for many years. We have very limited acreage of Arctic apples currently planted, and this small acreage is currently restricted to field trials. Once we receive deregulation, we will also have limited quantities of Arctic trees available for planting in 2014.
Neither McDonald’s nor Gerber disparage Arctic apples, or biotech foods. Not only is it clearly implausible for either company to be currently using or considering using Arctic apples for the reasons mentioned above, McDonald’s explains that they review products on a case-by-case basis, including the “status of regulatory approvals … as they become available to the market,” which by itself excludes Arctic apples as a potential product for the time being.
Gerber’s letter goes a step further, explaining that, “FDA has determined ingredients that are made using genetic modification are safe and nutritionally equivalent to traditional crops.” They also state that, “We carefully select our ingredients to ensure they meet all regulatory requirements … in some cases, these ingredients have been derived from GM crops.”
There is no plausible reason either company could be currently using or planning to use Arctic apples, due to regulatory and supply limitations. This has nothing to do with a rejection of biotechnology or the safety of biotech foods, and it is certainly not a rejection of Arctic apples.
In truth, FOE’s position is a manufactured, deliberately misleading construct to better serve its own motivations. We strongly encourage you to review the actual letters from McDonald’s and Gerber for yourself to get the accurate information straight from the source.
The real news story is the fact that, after 3.5 years of robust due diligence and rigorous science review, USDA APHIS has concluded that Arctic apples are safe for the environment and recommended they be approved for commercial planting.© Food Safety News