Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., of Summerland, British Columbia, has won a Gold Leaf Award for its biotechnology accomplishments in developing Arctic apples. The award is given by BIOTECanada, Canada’s national biotechnology industry organization.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, led by orchardist Neal Carter, plans to use genetic engineering to introduce traits such as disease and pest resistance, enhanced nutrition, better fruit quality, and improved packing and processing performance to already existing varieties. Its flagship project is the development of Arctic apples.
By silencing the gene that produces polyphenol oxidase, the enzyme that causes apples to brown when they are cut or bruised, conventional Granny Smith and Golden Delicious were made into non-browning Arctic apples.
The apples are in the process of being commercialized in the United States and Canada, which involves obtaining government approval.
Carter said the apples will benefit growers, packers, processors, retailers, and foodservice by reducing waste and shrinkage, increasing packout, and offering new product options where browning makes use of apples less attractive.
The award will be given during the BIO International Convention in Chicago on April 23.