Posts Tagged ‘genetics’

Behold! The Non-Browning Apple!

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s lunch time. You take a bit of your delicious apple. A colleague asks for your opinion on something, and you forgot about your apple for a few minutes.

When you return to it, you find it has become brown and gross. You throw it away out of disgust.

But its possible this may not happen again, if a new breed of genetically modified apple which doesn’t brown gets approval for growing. A biotech company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland (OSF), based in British Columbia, Canada, has developed the apple and believes it will be a hit. Neal Carter, president of the company said

They look like apple trees and grow like apple trees and produce apples that look like all other apples and when you cut them, they don’t turn brown. The benefit is something that can be identified just about by everybody.

He says that the new type of apple will encourage it to be packaged in salads and children’s lunches, helping lead to more healthy eating.

How does it work? Well my biology is a little rusty, but basically what happens is this:

When you pierce the skin of the apple you expose the innards to oxygen. This causes a chemical reaction to occur involving enzymes which create melanin, the same pigment in your hair and eyes, and leads to the apple turning brown.

OSF has licensed a technology from Australian researchers which stops the production of a certain enzyme, polyphenol oxidase, which causes the browning.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out, but it will be awhile. The approval process for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service can take years.

In the meantime, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent your fruit from browning. You could drizzle some lemon juice on it, as the acid helps prevent the enzymes from turning the fruit brown. Also, you could refrigerate the fruit before eating, as the cold temperature reduces the rate of the chemical reaction which produces that nasty brown colour.

My Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies: #4 – Jurassic Park

August 5, 2010 1 comment

#4 – Jurassic Park (1993)

In a science fiction top 10 list, you knew there had to be a couple Spielberg movies in the mix. So now I’ve given you two in a row.

When I was in the 4th grade, I literally watched this movie every single day for about a month. The special effects were incredible (for the time) and they hold up pretty well today as well.

And of course, like every nerdy 4th grade kid, I was pretty into dinosaurs at the time. I think this movie was a major factor in my decision to study science in my future.

The pacing of the movie is perfect, the characters are real and interesting, and the story line actually made it seem plausible that dinosaurs could be genetically engineered.

And the metaphor of losing control of our creation is what I think gives this movie a timeless quality. Its a story that will always be relevant to our daily lives, and thats one of the reasons I think it resonates with a large audience.

“We’ve made living biological attractions so astounding that they’ll capture the imagination of the entire planet.”


Full List:

#10 – The Terminator (1984)

#9 – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

#8 – The Fifth Element (1997)

#7 – Aliens (1986)

#6 – Blade Runner (1982)

#5 – E.T. (1982)

#4 – Jurassic Park (1993)

#3 – V for Vendetta (2005)

#2 – Star Wars Trilogy (1977 – 1983)

#1 – Back to the Future (1985)