GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Research Fungal and bacterial resistance, modified quality traits
Field trials EU 10
USA 51
Approval None
Perspectives A commercial use of GM apples is possible on the mid-term.



Two kinds of apple trees are differentiated: "Niederstammsorten" (low trunk species ) are commercially cultivated in plantations. "Hochstammsorten" (high trunk species) are found in extensively managed orchards, in which the harvest is lower. The diversity of mostly old species is large.

Apple trees grow mostly in temperate climate zones. The commercial cultivation of apples primarily takes place in Europe, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and the USA.



The fruit is mostly consumed raw or processed to:


Gene technology: aims of research and development

Agronomic traits

Resistance against pathogens

  • Fungal resistance: improvement of resistibility towards fungal disease such as apple scab and powdery mildew. Apple scab, the most significant apple disease, is a fungal disease that overwinters in the leaves of the trees.

  • Bacterial resistance to the bacterial disease known as fire blight that has spread throughout European countries in the last 30 years. Fire blight is highly contagious and there are no effective remedies to fight the disease.

Resistance against pests

Qualita traits

Modified content of fruit sugar and alcohols

  • Research of a GM apple that is compatible (modified content of polyphenol; polyphenol binds allergens) with allergy sufferers is being conducted in some countries (USA, Netherlands and Sweden)

  • In the USA experiments with apple trees are taking place whose fruits are not getting brown.

Plant development

  • Modified blossom time

  • Modified ethylene production and therefore delayed maturity

  • Modified rooting

  • Male sterility, parthenocarpy: to reduce the risk of outcrossing, sterility concepts are pursued. Male sterile plants do not develop pollen. Under parthenocarpy, fruits without seeds are produced.

  • Auto fertility: apple is not auto fertile. With auto fertility seeds could be used for cultivation. To date, a specific species has been vegetatively multiplied by grafting it into a bed.


Field trials with GM apples

Applications 10
Countries Netherlands 4, Belgium 2, Sweden 3, Germany 1
Period 1989-2010
Traits Fungal and bacterial resistance, modified rooting and flower formation
USA 51
Period 1991-2010
Characteristics modified quality traits, delayed maturity
Other Countries Newseeland


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

 GMO Database
GM Food and Feed: Authorization in the EU
GMO Database: Contains information on every GM plant that has been approved or is awaiting authorisation in the EU.
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