Washington’s apple growers fear stigma by association after GM apple approval

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The debate over genetically modified organisms didn’t end in 2013, when this state’s voters narrowly rejected an initiative that would have required labels on GMO products. Back then, it was opposition from the state’s agricultural industry — and a 72 percent no vote in ag-oriented Yakima County — that helped thwart the efforts of labeling proponents.

Now the Valley’s apple industry is viewing with alarm the prospect of Canadian apples that are genetically engineered to keep their color after the skin is disturbed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced earlier this month that the apples will be allowed into this country. The approval came in spite of concerns by industry groups representing growers and packers of conventional apples, who joined environmental and food-safety advocates in opposing the move.

Despite the scientific consensus, the state’s apple industry fears stigma-by-association — that consumers will group GMO apples with all apples.

The science is on the side of GMO products, but it remains to be seen how much that will affect consumer perception.

In the meantime, those in the state apple industry who fear the stigma-by-association can aggressively market its goods as non-GMO — at least until it can get an accurate gauge of consumer reaction.

Read full, original article: GMO debate ensnares state apple industry

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