By WAYNE MOORE
A third variety of apple produced through biotechnology in Summerland is closer to gaining regulatory approval in the United States.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. is petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture for regulatory approval of the non-browning Arctic Fuji variety.
The USDA granted similar approval to OSF's Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden last year.
The agency published a decision Wednesday, stating they had reached a preliminary decision to extend their determination of non-regulated status of the apple variety.
A public comment period will be initiated in the coming days, giving the public a chance to provide input for the agency's review.
OSF president Neal Carter said he is pleased with the decision reached by the USDA, stating success of the first two non-browning varieties shows they are of great interest to both the industry and consumer.
"We are confident we will see a similar response to Arctic Fuji, and many more non-browning varieties still to come," said Carter.
Carter said studies by the USDA have concluded these varieties are just as safe for consumers and the environment as conventional apples.
“Over a decade of real-world field trial experience has assured us that Arctic trees have the same growing needs as conventional trees, and that Arctic apples are compositionally and nutritionally comparable to conventional apples,” said Carter.
“It’s not until an Arctic apple is bruised, bitten or cut that the nonbrowning benefit becomes obvious.”