In Michigan, we are ranked second in the nation for crop diversity and nearly every crop we grow honors a young woman each year with a crown and a scholarship. Heck, in college I was a friend of a former Michigan Bean Queen.
These contests are a point of pride for Michiganders. But, this year, Michigan’s Apple Queen contest got a little more political when Apple Queen contestants were asked to answer the following question:
“Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products have gotten a bad name in the online world. How would you defend the production of GMO apples to this online world? Please feel free to cite research references, add pictures and utilize anything you can find on social media.”
I think we should encourage the opinions of our young people to be as diverse as the crops we grow we grow here on Michigan. Instead, interest groups like the Michigan Apple Association have turned what once was an opportunity for young girls to earn scholarships into a propaganda show.
The Arctic Apple, the piece of fruit at the center of this debate, is an apple that has been genetically engineered to not turn brown. The food we eat has a way of telling us that it has past its prime, milk curdles, bread gets moldy and apples turn brown. The Arctic Apple’s non-browning appearance could mask the age of apples and mislead consumers into thinking that their apples are fresher than they really are.
Even more concerning is that these apples would go to market unlabeled, so consumers wouldn’t even know if they were eating them or not. Gerber, McDonald’s and Wendy’s have all announced that they won’t use or sell the apples. The U.S. Apple Association voiced disapproval of the Arctic Apple due to the impact that the apples could have on conventional and organic apple growers.
Contestants in the Michigan Apple Queen Contest must be a daughter, sister, niece or granddaughter of a Michigan apple producer. So if my grandfather is an organic apple grower and I need scholarship money, would my essay about how GMO apples are bad for conventional and organic apple farmers be automatically thrown out? The Michigan Apple Association is imposing their agenda on to young women and in essence asking them to become their media spokesperson. Regardless of how you feel about genetically modified foods, the heart of the issue is still deplorable.