Breakthrough in understanding the DNA of the apple

Scientists Have Made a Breakthrough in Understanding the DNA of the Apple

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Ah, if only apples were crispier, tastier and more nutritious.”

No? Neither have I.

Of course, no one enjoys a mealy, tasteless apple. But when you take a moment in the produce section to pick your apples carefully, you’ll usually end up with flavorful, crisp apples filled with plenty of nutrients.

Why am I obsessing about apple quality? Because I like my apples just the way they are.

The other day I came across an article from NutraIngredients-USA about genetic research of apples. It seems that a team of scientists at a New Zealand company called HortResearch has made a breakthrough in understanding the DNA of the apple. This is significant because when the puzzles of apple gene function are solved, the genes can then be manipulated to create new and “improved” apples.

According to NI-USA, the lead scientist at HortResearch, Dr. Ian Ferguson, told a recent gathering of fruit geneticists that this new research unlocks the “true potential” of nature. The result: “We are able topresent industry with products that meet consumer demand for attractive, novel, exciting new fruits that taste great, are healthy, convenient, safe and sustainably produced.”

Consumers are demanding novel, exciting new fruits? Did I miss something? I don’t remember hearing any of those demands.

As for the attractive, healthy, convenient and safe parts – I’ve got fruit in my refrigerator that already meets that description. No need for genetic engineering there.

Believe me, I’m all for scientific inquiry. Genetic research? Bring it on. I believe genetic research has the potential to revolutionize health care in this century – all for the better if applied responsibly.

What I DON’T need are novel new Frankenfruits, no matter how “exciting” they are. And consumers are not demanding them. Produce industry executives may demand new and unique products to sell, and if new products are developed I’m sure millions of dollars will be devoted to advertising campaigns that will try to convince us we need them.

Here’s all I’m getting at: Please don’t mess with our apples. They’re not broken. Don’t fix them.

“DNA Breakthrough Promises Crispier and Tastier Apples” NutraIngredients-USA, 3/21/06,