Farah Hancock at Newsroom reports:
The red-fleshed apples developed by Plant and Food Research’s scientist Professor Andrew Allan and his team are so contentious they’re not allowed to eat them in New Zealand.After six years of working on the apple he was keen to understand whether the apple was a winner or a fizzer.
“In the end we had to take them to America.”
The cores were removed from the apples so no seeds were present. They were triple-bagged and sealed. Phytosanitary certificates were gained to get approval to move the apples from their glasshouse in Auckland’s Mount Albert to the airport, and then on to the United States. Allan and the science team flew the precious cargo to San Francisco where a taste-testing panel of 50 people waited.
Plant and Food Research’s Mount Albert glasshouse is a contained facility, with regulatory and logistical hurdles, because Allan’s apples are genetically modified.
“We had measured everything on a machine. We measured volatiles, we measured compounds and we measured vitamin C levels. We measured everything we could.”
Eating is banned within the glasshouse – even sipping a cup of coffee is a no-no. So taking a bite of the apples within the greenhouse was out of the question. Two years spent trying to gain approval to taste-test them outside the glasshouse were unsuccessful. The only solution was to take the apples to a country where eating fresh genetically modified foods was permissible.
The apples have high levels of anthocyanin in them which causes the red-flesh, and Allan wanted to know if this might make the apples bitter.
“The best way to test that is to eat it.”
The apples tasted like winners, according to Allan. The blind-folded taste-testers identified them as Royal Gala apples and rated them favourably on flavour.
“They took the blindfold off and they went, ‘Wow, that’s amazing’. They were absolutely shocked by how wonderful it looked.
“One of them said, ‘You must be rich’, and one said, ‘Where can we get these from? We want them.’”
The Government goes on about trusting the science on climate change (which I do) but when it comes to the science on genetic engineering we have such an anti-science framework that you can’t even taste a GE apple within New Zealand.
In New Zealand, Sir Peter Gluckman, the former chief science advisor to the Prime Minister, finished his term with a discussion about genetic modification onTVNZ’s Q+A show. “The science is as settled as it will be. That is, it’s safe, that there are no significant ecological or health concerns associated with the use of advanced genetic technologies.”
Note the phase the science is settled. The Greens use that phrase as holy mantra with climate change yet refuse to accept it with genetic modification.