Photo credit: Abhijit Tembhekar via Flickr/Creative Commons
Scientists in Australia have developed an apple that won't rot. Or, won't rot for a long, long time. The delicious-sounding RS103-130 apple is a rare cross-breed 20 years in the making, cooked up by researchers at Australia's Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries. They claim the shiny red apples will stay fresh, delicious, and crispy for four months. But, wait; aren't things like apples supposed to rot?
RS103-130 apple: Tastes better than it sounds, apparently
The idea isn't so much to make it rot-proof, necessarily, but to just make it last longer that it ordinarily would. The team developing it did so by incorporating a gene from a black-spot resistant Asiatic apple, and they swear by the taste. Tim Mulherin, Queensland's primary industries minister, says, "Initial taste tests have been outstanding. Out of the five apple types tasted, the new variety scored the highest."
The team is also excited about other perceived benefits that the apple brings to the table. Because it's resistant to disease, it will cut down on fungicides and pesticides used by conventional growers, saving farmers money on the preventative sprays, and reducing pesticide load.
It will also make apple storage more energy efficient, they say. Cold storage refrigeration, like most forms of refrigeration, uses lots of energy; Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society, notes that, "if you had a variety that required less cold storing, that would be valuable."
Should we be eating lab-designed foods?
Okay, so all of this sounds nice, but, really, why is this necessary? Lab-designed food issues aside -- like, do you want to put something that doesn't rot forever in your body? -- if we all just followed green eating guidelines and ate seasonal, local, organic apples, there would be no need for something like this (and who's to say there is a need now, anyway?).
Food is supposed to rot, and while way too much food is wasted around the world, the solution is not to engineer perishables to last longer; the solution is to create stronger local food systems that emphasize sustainable production and seasonal cycles. So, with all due respect to the RS103-130, we'll be sticking with the good old-fashioned Macintosh, Fuji, and other nature-designed apples. Meanwhile, the Queensland government is seeking a commercial supply partner to distribute the fruit and hopes to begin selling it next year.