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● The Northwest Horticultural Council wrote USDA Secretary Vilsack on Monday urging him to reject Petition 10-161-01p now before the United States Department of Agriculture for nonregulated status for two genetically engineered (GE) varieties of apples, both developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., of Summerland, British Columbia, Canada. Our position was taken not due to any human food safety issues with the GE non-browning apples, but because of potential consumer marketing problems. The general issue of how to deal with GE food crops is very heated in Washington, D.C. Proponents of the technology often favor unrestricted commercial release once human safety is established. Extreme opponents despise the technology and do not want any GE products released into the ecosphere. The NHC is viewing this as a balancing act: here the economic benefits of non-browning GE apples were not seen to be enough to overcome concerns over future labeling, product commingling, possible restrictions on exports, product testing costs, and such for both conventional and organic apple growers and shippers. Apples are a symbol of good health; a food that a mother hands to her child. While scientifically there is no safety difference between our fruit and GE corn or soybeans (which are now widely available in the U.S. marketplace), there is a significant consumer emotional response to be considered.

● Today at The White House, President Obama and President Calderon announced a plan to resolve a divisive trucking dispute between Mexico and the United States. If all goes well—and all red tape is accordingly cut—and the stars stay in alignment, we may see the end of the punitive tariffs on apples, pears, and cherries by late summer.

● I plan to fly to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, primarily for meetings of USApple. The apple industry’s national trade association is having its annual spring committee and board meetings on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, Capitol Hill visits to congressional offices having local apple production will take place with the day ending with a USApplePAC event at the Capitol Hill Club. The guest of honor at this political action committee fundraiser will be Congressman Doc Hastings (R/Washington).

● POLITICAL FRUIT: “It followed, the company said, that the adjective ‘personal’ must also apply to the corporation. Chief Justice John C. Roberts, Jr., writing for the court, was having none of that. ‘Adjectives typically reflect the meaning of corresponding nouns,’ he wrote, ‘but not always.’ He gave examples. ‘The noun crab refers to a crustacean and a type of apple, while the related adjective “crabbed” can refer to handwriting that is “difficult to read….’” Adam Liptak, New York Times, March 2, 2011.