The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on a non-browning biotech apple.

Through mid-September, the USDA will accept comments on the Arctic apple. Summerland, British Columbia-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. asked the USDA to give the apple nonregulated status. The petition is available on the USDA website.

“We are interested in receiving comments regarding potential environmental and interrelated economic issues and impacts that (USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) may determine should be considered in our evaluation of the petition,” according to the notice. APHIS is interested in comments — and scientific research/studies — regarding biological, cultural and ecological issues, according to the notice in the Federal Register.

Nancy Foster, president of the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association, said the USDA will review comments and decide next steps at that point.

The U.S. Apple Association and the Yakima, Wash.-based Northwest Horticultural Council in early 2011 urged the USDA to keep the genetically modified variety out of the U.S. because of concerns for potential marketing harm to the conventional and organic apple industry.

“Our industry took a position in opposition to this particular apple being approved for commercial use,” Chris Schlect, president of the horticultural council, said July 12.

Schlect said the biotech apple poses marketing and export issues for both conventional and organic grower-shippers that outweigh any advantages from the non-browning apples.

Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., said in May the apple is designed for fresh-cut products, and foodservice operators have also expressed interest.