The produce aisle is about to get more high-tech. A pink pineapple, a bruise-resistant potato and an apple that doesn’t brown are part of a new crop of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that may soon make it onto store shelves across the U.S. But will people want to eat them? While most research indicates that GMOs are probably safe to eat, 18 states have introduced bills that would require GMOs to be labeled.
As it stands, foods that are modified or contain GMOs do not have to be marked as such. Some experts say GMOs have not lived up to industry claims that they can help eradicate hunger, cut down on pesticide use and produce healthier food.
“GMOs have mostly failed to deliver on their promises,” says Jonathan Foley, an environmental scientist and executive director of the California Academy of Sciences. “Part of me is wondering why so much effort is going into something so trivial, like browning.” Time will tell if consumers feel the same.
Though Del Monte remains mum on the details, regulatory paperwork reveals that the company has developed a pineapple with rose-colored flesh and higher levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which is associated with lower risks for cancer and heart disease.
J.R. Simplot’s “Innate” potatoes have 40% less bruising, which the company says will help reduce food waste. The potatoes also produce less acrylamide, a carcinogenic chemical that’s released when potatoes are fried or otherwise browned.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits makes “Arctic” apples, which don’t experience enzymatic browning–the discoloration that occurs after an apple is sliced. The company says it hopes the apples will help the fruit better compete with other snack foods.