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Tue, Apr 23, 2013
11:30 AM

Help Us Upset the Biotech Apple Cart: Join the GMO Protest in Chicago!

As if it weren’t bad enough that non-organic apples top the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of the most pesticide-ridden foods. Now Frankenapple, a genetically modified apple, will soon be coming to a grocery store near you.

On April 23, the biotech industry plans to celebrate the first GMO apple by presenting it with an award. If you think that’s preposterous, come to Chicago and help us upset the biotech industry’s apple cart!

The Organic Consumers Organization, along with other consumer activists, will protest the GMO Arctic® Apple with a press conference and picket line in front of the 2013 BIO International Convention, on April 23 in Chicago. Please RSVP below.

The OCA will hand out organic apples, anti-GMO posters and Millions against Monsanto T-shirts as we alert Chicago-area consumers to the biotech industry’s latest attack on Mother Nature, our health and the environment. There will even be a little Apple Cart Upset theater involved.

Activists should meet at 11:30 a. m. on Tuesday, April 23, outside the McCormick Place Convention Center (McCormick Square), located at 2233 South Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Drive, Chicago, 60616. We are meeting on the public sidewalk just south of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. The press conference and other activities will begin promptly at noon.

Please RSVP below. For more information, contact Mike Durschmid,, 630.220.4151.

The Award

BIOTECanada will present its “Gold Leaf Award for Early Stage Agriculture” to Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. (OSF), purveyor of the Arctic® Apple, a genetically modified apple slated for approval in the U.S. this year. We hate to (read: we love to) upset the biotech apple cart, but a GMO apple, especially an untested, unlabeled one, doesn’t deserve a place on our grocery shelves, much less in the agriculture hall of fame.

“Frankenapple” is expected to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), responsible for protecting agriculture from pests and diseases, this year. It does not require approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Agency (FDA), which is responsible for human food and animal feed.


Non-organic apples top the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, for both the volume and the stunning array of pesticides consistently found on them. According to the Pesticide Action Network’s analysis of the most recent USDA data, apples tested positive for 42 pesticides, including organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides. Both are endocrine disruptors, both have suspected neurological effects, and both are considered especially toxic for children. (Organophosphates are the basis for nerve gases used in chemical warfare, and have been linked to the development of ADHD in kids).

Given such a grim report card, one could argue that it really doesn’t make any difference if we start tinkering with the apple’s genes.

After all, unlike GMO corn or salmon, scientists aren’t injecting pesticides or genes from foreign plants or animals into the genes of apples to create the Frankenapple. They’re “just” adding a synthetic gene that reduces the apple’s ability to produce polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme that causes the apple to turn brown when it’s exposed to oxygen. The synthetic gene contains DNA sequences from four of the apple’s own genes that naturally govern production of polyphenol oxidase. This process of shutting down an organism’s ability to express a specific gene is called RNA interference.

Does RNA interference make the Frankenapple hazardous to human health? OSF, the industry, and some scientists say, no. Others, including Michael Hansen of the Union of Concerned Scientists, say very possibly. Hansen says the process involves “manipulating tiny pieces of RNA which survive human digestion and can have significant impacts on the human body.”

But that’s only the half of it, says Hansen. The chemical compound that is shut off in the engineered fruit, in order to make it not oxidize or brown, is a chemical compound that also fights off plant pests. What happens when the apple’s ability to fend off insects is compromised? Growers will need to spray greater amounts, of possibly even more toxic pesticides, on a crop already saturated with at least 42 types of pesticides.

More on the RNA biotech process.

Event Location

McCormick Place Convention Center
2233 South Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Drive
Chicago, IL 60616