GMO Arctic Apples Antibiotic Gene Set to Destroy US Apple Exports

Posted on Jan 11 2014 - 6:38pm by Sustainable Pulse

The USDA and Canada’s CFIA are currently reviewing GMO Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples, with both expected to be approved for cultivation in 2014. (UPDATE 14/02/2015: The USDA has now approved cultivation)

However, a Sustainable Pulse source revealed Saturday that an EU Directive regarding the antibiotic marker gene Kanamycin, found in the GMO Arctic Apples, could threaten not just North American future GMO Arctic Apple exports but the whole of the North American apple export market to the EU. It could also threaten exports to China, Russia, Mexico and Costa Rica due to similar regulations.

Kanamycin (also known as kanamycin A) is an aminoglycoside bacteriocidal antibiotic, available in oral, intravenous, and intramuscular forms, and used to treat a wide variety of infections. The Kanamycin gene, used as a marker in genetic engineering, confers cross resistance against other clinically important Kanamycin-related antibiotics. In the treatment of serious infections, many of the most important other antibiotics damage the cell walls of bacteria in such a way that the toxins inside the bacteria are released into the body, which may be a serious threat in a condition of great weakness. The Kanamycin-related aminoglykoside antibiotics don’t cause such release and are therefore especially valuable in severe life-threatening infections. It would be an important drawback if the resistance to these antibiotics would increase.

The use of Kanamycin as the marker gene in GMO Arctic Apples means that EU regulators may refuse to allow imports of not just GM Apples from North America but also all North American apples over cross-pollination and gene transfer fears.

In the EU directive below it is clearly stated that by 31 December 2008 all GM crops which contain antibiotic marker genes were phased out due to adverse effects on human health and the environment.

From 2001/18/EC

Article 4 of the directive states:

Member States and the Commission shall ensure that GMOs which contain genes expressing resistance to antibiotics in use for medical or veterinary treatment are taken into particular consideration when carrying out an environmental risk assessment, with a view to identifying and phasing out antibiotic resistance markers (antibiotic markers) in GMOs which may have adverse effects on human health and the environment. This phasing out shall take place by the 31 December 2004 in the case of GMOs placed on the market according to part C and by 31 December 2008 in the case of GMOs authorised under part B.

(This is a legal directive and even though EFSA has since reported the Kanamycin (nptII) marker gene to be safe – their report may be challenged and is not agreed with by a number of respected scientists)

Okanagan Specialty Fruits has petitioned for regulatory approval for the two GMO apple varieties in Canada from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada and in the US from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). If approved, as seems likely, they would be the first genetically engineered apple brought to market in North America.

The possible approval has not just worried GMO Free campaigners but also a number of fruit farming organisations in North America. The British Columbia Fruit Growers Association has even openly rejected the GMO Arctic Apple because of the lack of independent testing or public consultation, the uncertainty over cross-pollination with non-GMO apple trees and the probable rejection of B.C. apples by export markets.

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This new revelation regarding the antibiotic marker gene in GMO apples could also lead to understandable fears amongst US and Canadian consumers, who are already deeply worried about antibiotic resistance issues.

Another Blow to the Already Struggling EU-US Apple Relations

The new Kanamycin antibiotic gene scandal is set to further harm the already struggling apple relations between the US and Europe.

US pear and apple exports to Europe are in steep decline, dropping 73 percent over the past five years. That’s a loss of $33 million a year in export revenue, according to a bipartisan group of nine US senators.

“The erosion of the European market for U.S. apple and pear exports is largely the result of different regulatory standards and requirements for pesticides and food additives,” the senators wrote in recent letter.

In the last six years, apple exports from the Northwest USA have declined from more than 1.35 million to around 500,000 boxes, a drop of 60 %, said Dr. Michael Willett, vice president for scientific affairs for the Northwest Horticultural Council. “The East Coast ships about a half million cartons of apples to the United Kingdom, and they, too, have lost ­substantial market due to a wax issue.”

When the European Union harmonized regulations governing plant protection chemicals in 2008, the harmonization made it easier for EU countries to ship to each other, Willett explained. But the new requirements also included more stringent maximum residue limits, or MRLs, that apply to imported products. MRLs for a chemical used in common fruit waxes and two chemicals used to prevent scald in apples and pears have been causing problems for U.S. fruit exporters.

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15 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. s o'neil January 12, 2014 at 03:42 - Reply

    antibiotic resistant bacteria will cause untreatable infections.

  2. Russ January 12, 2014 at 08:16 - Reply

    Has the EU been applying this in its approval procedure for imports in food and feed products? I thought many or most GMOs used the Kanamycin ABR. Or is the problem considered more severe in the case of a direct frankenfood like this worthless Arctic Apple.

    Either way we see how, as lousy as EU food regulations are, they try to avoid the worst of the atrocious food production systems of the US and Canada.

    Meanwhile this product is perhaps the most frivolous GMO yet. It self-evidently has no value and is clearly a propaganda exercise, meant to help normalize direct-for-consumption GMOs and deepen the sense of how allegedly unstoppable GMOs are.

    • Sustainable Pulse January 12, 2014 at 17:52 - Reply

      Dear Russ,

      No they haven’t been applying the law because of 2009 EFSA report. However this may soon change due to legal action that will enforce the 2001 directive.

      Best Wishes,
      Sustainable Pulse Team

    • natasha May 25, 2014 at 23:00 - Reply

      EU with lousy food regulations??? Excuse me sir but I have to say that you are WAY off! Food laws here are much harder and better than the sickening ways of treating animals,and adding poisons and chemicals in the heartland of the USA…wake up

      • Lora Jasan February 17, 2016 at 07:40 - Reply

        Oh they’re not worried about some silly ‘bans’ in Europe or anywhere else. They just got the TPP signed and the TIPP (or whatever weird acronym it is they’re using) is about to be signed as well, which gives the corporations the power to SUE THE GOVERNMENTS OF ANY COUNTRY THAT REFUSES THEIR TERMS OF TRADE or any products, or in any way obstructs the profits to be made by force feeding their toxins to you and yours. MWAAHAHAHAHAAAAA.

  3. Annoyed January 12, 2014 at 16:14 - Reply

    Hi I’m reading this on an Apple mobile but there is a social sharing bar that is blocking the text. There is no way to remove it and it scrolls with the text. Do you rather want me to like this than read it!? Please put the sharing buttons at the bottom of the article so I can read it before deciding if it is worthy to be shared.

    • Sustainable Pulse January 12, 2014 at 16:58 - Reply

      Dear Annoyed,

      This problem has now been solved. Please clear cache and read with pleasure:)

      Best Wishes,
      Sustainable Pulse Team

  4. CJ January 12, 2014 at 16:28 - Reply

    This will lead to apples not being consumed at all in my circle of family and friends. I will eat apples if i end up building a closed environment apple tree greenhouse structure. How sad is that? Ruining this fruit staple for everyone unless we sterilize its environment. And this effects honey as well, not site how but if this apples pollen gets made into honey, honey will no longer be available to holistic/alternative healers like myself.

  5. DoWhatNow January 12, 2014 at 17:47 - Reply

    nptII (the marker you’re complaining about) has been legal in the EU food supply for quite some time.

    You might want to reconsider using the source who fed you this information.

    • Sustainable Pulse January 12, 2014 at 17:55 - Reply

      The fact is that the EU has not been applying their own written directive due to an 2009 EFSA report. However this may soon change due to legal action that will enforce the 2001 EU directive (legal directive not just an EFSA report).

      The nptII marker is also under review in China, Mexico and Costa Rica. Do US apple farmers want to risk it?

      Best Wishes,
      Sustainable Pulse Team

  6. Angela January 13, 2014 at 20:39 - Reply

    Write to the CFIA: [email protected], the Export MP: [email protected], Minister of Ag: [email protected], PMO [email protected] and tell them we don’t want the Arctic Apple and we don’t want to risk GMO contamination to all of Canada’s apples, bees, etc.

  7. Jwk February 11, 2014 at 15:40 - Reply

    Why have they not figured out that if they kill all of us with their crap they will not have anyone to purchase their crap.

    • hullabalulu May 6, 2014 at 12:01 - Reply

      hallelujah! I like your talk Jwk

      What I’m going to do is print out the terrible truth about gm food, and a list of some of the most common foods that are gm, and post them up on my local woollies/food store notice board.

      most people are too busy being distracted with all the fictional entertainment going on to realise that seriously strange things are going on.

  8. Leo Chul Song, Jr. February 15, 2015 at 08:30 - Reply

    I am a botanist and I see this as a threat for all apple varieties growing in NOAM. Would Monsanto then have a right to sue a farmer who just happens to have a hybrid between Arctic and a non-GMO variety? Seems the shoe should be on the other foot- If that gene is found “out of place” moved by a bee or the wind, the farmer should be the one to be covered for any loss of organic certification and market share. Since Monsanto has the patent and the gene “belongs” to M, then M bears full responsibility for any damage arising from the gene moving out of Arctic’s genome. This would also be the case for all of the GMO genes. Talk about a smoking gun!!

  9. April Reeves February 15, 2015 at 16:49 - Reply

    Why do I want to cut every tree down? Because 12 years ago I was very sick. My MD was not one to give out drugs, but for the first time, he gave me an antibiotic. Less than 2 hours later I was in the hospital with little chance of making it. I did, and I spent $1400 for the toxicity testing and found out how utterly toxic I was. My immune system packed it in from the many antibiotics streaming through my body. BUT, I had never taken an antibiotic in my life until then. I got it from eating factory farmed meats, especially chicken. SO, one of those deadly antibiotics is Kanamycin. While this article suggests the resistance to this is possible, I’m here to tell you I already have it! I will never be able to take an antibiotic ever again in my life. If I come across this apple and end up in hospital again, I will be suing someone…

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