GMO Apple Is A Rotten Idea

I knew Frankenstein apples were coming – but I still almost choked on my morning fruit bowl when the young, local TV reporter revealed what just happened.

The United States Department of Agriculture gave the nod that allows trees bearing genetically manipulated apples to be sold to farmers. Consumer safety approval by the FDA is now sure to follow.

That means that this Frankenstein fruit will be coming to a supermarket shelf near you in just a few years.

I warned you about these GMO apples – called Arctic Apples – more than a year ago. Their genetically engineered twist is that they don’t turn brown when cut or sliced.

This TV reporter might as well have been a paid spokeswoman for Big Agra. And that bothered me.

As a respected physician in Palm Beach County, Florida, I could have called the station and convinced them to put me on TV to explain my worries about GMOs.

But I’m not a publicity hound. Unlike some doctors, my priority is to keep you and my patients healthy.

Yet where were the questions about the safety of these Franken-apples and why we even need them?

I have other questions…

Apples turn brown when cut, because of their exposure to oxygen. Humans and many other animals have been nourishing themselves with these apples for thousands of years. What right do we have to tinker with the very stuff of life?

Why alter something that is already so nutritious? I expect we’ll see a rash of new food allergies as a result.

And why hasn’t anyone done studies on them to ensure they’re safe? Do we really want them in our kids’ school lunches or our baby foods?

What about labeling and our right to choose whether we want a GMO apple or not

? How will we know what we’re getting if we order a salad containing apples in a restaurant or something prepared in the supermarket?

There are clear benefits for growers and sellers, but I don’t see any benefits at all for the people who will eat them.

To the young newscaster –  and to most everyone else in the media – these GMO apples seemed like a great idea. None of them was asking the right questions.

But the FDA and the USDA don’t care. It’s estimated we already consume GMOs in more than 70 percent of our grocery products.1

You’re probably already eating GMO corn, soy, squash, papaya and more. But you wouldn’t know it, because only Connecticut requires labels to notify you of GMO content. And its law is under attack.

Big Agra alters the plants’ genes to help them resist insects, diseases, pesticides or herbicides. Sometimes they do it just to make the crop look tastier or resist rotting.

I think Frankenfoods are bad news. I have serious concerns about how these artificial chains of genetic material may affect our bodies.

If plants can create toxins to ward off insects and diseases, I worry about what happens when we consume these toxins. If plants can resist pesticides and herbicides, farmers can douse them with more and more poisonous chemicals.

And what happens when we consume these tainted crops? The short answer is that we don’t know.

Since 2010, apples have topped an annual list of produce that is most contaminated with pesticide residue.

Now the makers of the Arctic Apple have upped the ante by potentially making Frankenfoods more dangerous than ever. To eliminate browning, they switched off the apple’s natural biochemical defenses against insects. So Arctic Apples will need more pesticides than other apples.

Even worse, they have meddled with the Arctic Apples’ RNA.

While DNA carries the genetic blueprint for a living thing, it is the RNA that communicates these specifications to proteins to execute that blueprint.

Normally, Big Agra scientists create GMOs by tinkering with a plants’ DNA. And it claims their crops are safe because our digestive system breaks down the DNA in our food.

I disagree and recent studies back me up.2,3,4

But I believe the double-strand RNA created for Arctic Apples poses a bigger threat than altered-DNA – because RNA doesn’t break down during digestion.5

This means the Arctic Apple’s man-made RNA enters your bloodstream and spreads to other cells. No one has any idea how these rogue RNAs will interact with either our DNA or our proteins.

No long-term studies have been done to find out. And the USDA doesn’t plan to order the tests. Instead, American consumers have essentially become guinea pigs for these Franken-apples.

The unhappy truth is that GMO foods have become so pervasive, it’s almost impossible to eliminate them from your diet.

But there are ways to minimize your exposure…

Start out by looking for this label: USDA Organic. It’s America’s gold standard of organic foods. It means that the product contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The certification bans the use of GMOs, as well as irradiation and chemical solvents. It also bans synthetic dyes, pesticides and fertilizers.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find this label: Non-GMO Project Verified. The non-profit, Non-GMO Project only gives its seal of approval to products that meet the more stringent standards of the European Union.

The next best alternative is to develop a relationship with an organic farmer in your area. To find organic farmers, check out Web sites, like,, and

Beware of other labels and of blanket terms like antibiotic free, free-range, free roaming, hormone-free, no chemicals, and especially natural. These terms are often meaningless in terms of your nutrition.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS

1. Center for Food Safety. “About genetically engineered foods.” Downloaded on February 19, 2015.

2. Solymosi, N., et al. “Complete genes may pass from food to human blood.” The Public Library of Science. July 30, 2013. Downloaded February 20, 2015.

3. Chen, X., et al. “Reply to lack of detectable oral bioavailability of plant microRNAs after
feeding in mice.” Nat Biotechnol Nov; 31 (11): 967-9. doi: 10.1038/nbt.2741.

4. Netherwood,T., et al.”Assessing survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract.” Nature Biotechnology. January 18, 2004. 22,204-209 (2004).

5. Heinemann, J. A., et al. “A comparative evaluation of the regulation of GM crops or products containing dsRNA and suggested improvements to risk assessments.” Environ Int. Vol. 78, May 2015.