But if the point of the apple is to help reduce food waste, why market it in a way that requires so much packaging? I asked the company, and it responded that the plastic bags are recyclable, as are the shipping cartons and trays. Still, it’s hard to see how whole apples would require as much plastic, recyclable or not.

Some scientists see a different benefit: The Arctic apples might help familiarize consumers with genetically modified foods. In a Pew Research study from 2015, 57 percent of respondents said they believed GM foods unsafe to eat, compared to just 11 percent of scientists. Of course, we’ve had GM foods in our diets for years now. Bt-corn, for instance, has genetic material added to its seeds to protect the crop from pests like caterpillars. The FDA considers Bt-corn equivalent to non-GMO corn and it’s used in many products like tortilla chips and most high-fructose corn syrups.

But the Arctic apples are one of the first genetically modified foods created to please consumers, rather than farmers. “It’s good for people to bite into one of these apples and see in their own hand how simple it is,” says Professor Pam Ronald, a plant pathologist and geneticist at the University of California-Davis. “It tastes the same.”

That’s only if they know what they’re eating. law signed in 2016 by President Barack Obama requires companies to reveal whether a product is genetically modified, but it does not force them to print that information on its packaging. If you come across a packet of Arctic apple slices in stores, it won’t say “GM” on the label. Instead, there will be a QR code on the back that you can scan with a smartphone to learn more about Okanagan and the biotechnology at work.

Which means many shoppers will probably buy the Arctic apple without any idea that it’s genetically modified, something that Dana Perls, senior food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth, finds disturbing. Perls argues that the effects of eating gene-silenced fruit have not been investigated thoroughly enough. “The Food and Drug Administration and the USDA are not prepared and have not caught up with current genetic engineering technology,” she says.

Okanagan submitted its safety and nutritional information to the Food and Drug Administration in May of 2011. On March 20, 2015 the FDA concluded that the “apples are not materially different in safety, nutrition, composition, or other relevant characteristics from food and feed from apples currently on the market.”

“Our experience has been that the regulatory review process is extremely thorough and evidence-based,” says Carter. “The genetic engineering approaches we have used are well established and have been meticulously studied for many years.”

Perls points out that there are already non-browning apples out there that don’t require genetic modification. Breeders crossed the Golden and the Topaz apples to create the Opal, an apple that naturally has a lower amount of the PPO enzyme and is often sold pre-sliced as a result. But while 14-ounce bags of pre-sliced Opal apples sell for $3.99 at my local Safeway (Okanagan says the Arctic apples’ prices “are not dramatically different from other sliced apple products”), I can buy regular Golden Delicious apples for $1.99 a pound. So, for now, I plan to stick with my daily snack of a whole apple-bruises and all.

About the author

Amy Thomson is an online editorial fellow at Mother Jones. Reach her at [email protected].