Thank you for your question, Shelly! We are happy to share that our biotech-enhanced, non-browning Arctic apples will have no impact whatsoever on your ability to purchase organic apples, nor will they impact any consumer’s ability to choose whatever variety and production method they prefer.
This is due to a number of factors, chief among them the fact that even if Arctic apples were to cross-pollinate with a neighboring orchard, the resulting fruit would not be affected. As a comparison, consider that orchards typically have different varieties growing next to each other, yet a Fuji does not become a Gala when cross-pollination occurs, and, similarly, other varieties will not become “Arctic.”
While cross-pollination can sometimes result in some of the resulting seeds containing Arctic material, apple seeds are not consumed, nor are they used for commercial apple orchard propagation. Instead, apple orchards (including organic) are propagated via grafting, rather than seeds, which allows growers to better provide consistent, quality fruit—another triumph of agricultural innovation!
It’s also worth noting that because apples are pollinated by bees, rather than by the wind, the likelihood of cross-pollination is much lower than with many other crops. Additionally, stewardship standards like hive placement, buffer rows and tree placement can all further reduce the chances of cross-pollination.
With all that said, Arctic apples have been rigorously tested for everything from nutritional content to their response to pests (and cross-pollination issues as well!) and, other than their nonbrowning attribute, have proven to be just the same as their conventional counterparts with no unique risks. We have simply silenced the production of the enzyme that drives the browning process (polyphenol oxidase) using apple genes, and Arctic fruit contains no new proteins.
All apples are currently segregated by variety, and, for additional consumer transparency, we will even be voluntarily labeling Arctic apples with an “Arctic” sticker. Our consumer research has shown that most consumers, particularly those who learn more about our apples and the science behind them, will seek out Arctic apples for their added value, rather than avoid them. We encourage you to check out our website and ask us any further questions you may have, and hope you will come to the same conclusion!