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Would you eat an apple that would never turn brown?

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Don't you just hate it when your apple slices turn brown? There's a novel solution - as long as you can stomach a little gene splicing.

Okanagan Specialty Fruits, based in Summerland, B.C., is seeking approval from U.S. agriculture and food and drug regulators for its genetically altered, non-browning "Arctic" variety, the Associated Press reports.

The gene modification silences the browning reaction, so the fruit does not change colour when cut or bruised.

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"Consumers will be drawn to a non-browning apple for its appeal and convenience," the company says on its web site. "A non-browning apple will provide a more enjoyable eating experience and lead to increased consumption in many new ways: as a better, more appealing apple for eating whole or for favourite recipes...."

According to the AP, about 100 genetically modified crops have been submitted for U.S. regulatory approval, most of which have involved gene alterations to withstand specific herbicides or viruses. This is the first petition for apples, and so far, it's among few that have been modified for cosmetic reasons. (Already, it's been given the nickname, the "botox apple.")

Regulatory approval aside, however, the biggest barrier to commercialization is whether the public will accept it.

Other Canadian-developed genetically modified technology awaiting government approval, the ultra-fast-growing AquaAdvantage salmon and the environmentally sensitive Enviropig, are opposed by those who argue that the gene alterations are neither wanted nor needed in the marketplace.

When it comes to preventing apples from browning, there is an alternative - albeit old-fashioned - solution: lemon juice.

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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