This is going to be an interesting case to follow.
The science - Agrobacterium transformation used to introduce a silencing construct (derived from the endogenous apple gene) to switch off the four apple polyphenol oxidase (PPO) genes. PPO produces quinones, that upon cell damage non-enzymatically produce brown, lingin-like compounds (more science here http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/10_16101p.pdf).
The articTM apples were developed by a small Canadian biotech company Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (http://www.okspecialtyfruits.com/).
Here's a summary of some of the issues surrounding these biotech apples (http://appliedmythology.blogspot.ca/2012/07/consumers-should-get-to-try-first.html)
The US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is soliciting comments about the petition by OSF for the apples to be granted non-regulated status. They say, "We are particularly interested in receiving comments regarding biological, cultural, or ecological issues, and we encourage the submission of scientific data, studies, or research to support your comments." (https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-17144).
As of today, 54 comments have been submitted, and they are available for anyone to read (top right of the federal register page, under the green button).
It's a great learning opportunity for students, and chance for them to see and partaicipate in the intersection of science, policy, and public opinion. I would recommend asking students to draft and share their own comments!
Via Mary Williams