[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter years of research and extensive field testing, the Okanagan’s own GMO apple is going to the big leagues.
Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are routinely attacked by urban organic activists in spite of the fact that not a single ailment has ever been linked to this technology. And now, as a testament to the baselessness of such attacks, the rights to the GMO Arctic Apple have been purchased by the U.S. biotechnology company Intrexon (owners of GMO salmon), for the princely sum of $41 million.
This acquisition stands as a textbook example of how to stand up to organic activists.
Rather than compromise, Neal Carter, the Summerland developer of this non-browning apple, stood firm as organic activists claimed falsely that a GMO apple threatened organic orchards. The only question that remains is whether the organic industry will take former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s advice from 1997 and include the Arctic Apple in organic production.
Unlike some GMO crops that incorporate pesticides, the GMO Arctic Apple could, in theory, be grown under organic management with composted fertilizer and holistic pest management, according to the original version of the world’s most-widely adopted organic standards – the USDA National Organic Program.
I grew up on an organic farm and worked for five years as a USDA-contract organic inspector. I left when the organic movement became a bureaucratic scam designed to propel an anti-GMO, anti-scientific political agenda.
I still support the true principles of organic production. But with three-quarters of organic food being imported from countries like China, and with 46 per cent testing positive for prohibited pesticides — pesticides that do cause harm and can lead to death — it has long been my position that the organic industry has a massive problem on its hands, a problem that has nothing whatsoever to do with GMOs.
Organic crops are not tested. Record-keeping and record-checking are all that’s required to get a crop certified.
Imagine if we quit testing athletes at the Olympics. Do you think maybe athletes might take this as a licence to cheat? This is how the anti-GMO organic industry runs.
No wonder multimillionaire organic execs like John Mackey (Whole Foods) and tax-subsidized activists like Ronnie Cummins (The Organic Consumers Association) pretend GMOs threaten organic farms. By maligning this field of science, they’ve carved-out a sizable niche for themselves, giving consumers the false hope that they’re eating a better diet when they purchase premium-priced, certified-organic food, all based on the fact that it’s non-GMO.
The reality is quite the opposite.
The lack of organic field testing not only results in 46 per cent of organic food testing positive for prohibited pesticides, but also in un-composted fecal matter making its way into the organic food chain.
As Carter and his new corporate masters at Intrexon will surely attest, this causes serious illness, and can lead to death. How is this “organic” exactly?
GMO Golden Rice, papaya and brinjal are all examples of non-proprietary (no patent) GMO crops that could be grown organically. The time is long overdue for the organic industry to follow Clinton’s advice and embrace GMOs. And what better place to start than with Carter’s GMO Arctic Apple?
By standing up to organic “pseudo-science and naysaying fearmongers,” Carter proves that when the enemies of science can’t beat you, they might someday be forced to join you.
This article first appeared in the Kelowna Daily Courier. Mischa Popoff has no financial interest in the Arctic Apple or Intrexon.
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