The USDA’s Biotechnology Regulatory Service announced that it had approved the first biotech Apple that doesn’t brown. The biotech apple posed no threat to pests or other trees. It was a first instance when the USDA approved a GE plant. It is tweaked in the favor of the consumer compared to that of producer. Prior to this, the request for approval was for crops that were resistant to drought or pests. The biotech apple is made by the company Okanagan Specialty Fruit. It is a new entrant in the GMO industry.
The Biotech Apple of Okanagan Specialty fruit will come in two different varieties, the Granny and Golden. As of now, the apples won’t be sold at grocery stores as they need final nod from the FDA. The new Biotech Apple will prevent the loss of valuable nutrients. Okanagan announced that the GE form of the apple will be healthier than regular apples. The reason stated was he cooks won’t require spraying citric acid over them to prevent browning.
Opportunities for other players
The market experts said that new Biotech apple will prompt small startups to enter the GMO industry. As of now, it is monopolized by six companies including Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), BASF, Syngenta AG (ADR)(NYSE:SYT), Bayer Crop Sciences, Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Pioneer. Jennifer Armen, the Marketing Director, said that it is a daunting task for most of the firms to enter such an industry. They lack support of politicians and lobbyists to get the necessary approvals.
The price issue
The other problem that startups face while entering into a GMO industry is of cost. Getting approval for a new plant from USDA is extremely expensive. The federal testing and registration expenses for a GE plant are around 35 million. The research expenses and development expenses require almost $31 million and $71 million respectively. At the same time, commercialization of a biotech product is not a rich man’s game.