I think the age of fact-checking in journalism is over, as all of these stories seem to have more or less invented the Genetic Modification angle and run with it, and/or copied each other. Even science news aggregators are heralding this as a GM crop: next comes the Facebook groups calling for it to be banned, and the townspeople with pitchforks to burn the orchard: all the while, no one bothered to read the product description, or watch the breeders’ video.
The process of selecting this apple is described on their website in all of its conventional breeding glory:
“An apple is an apple. But not in this case. Our new breeding Paradis Sparkling® is different. So different, just as the name describes: Sparkling® explodes in your mouth. When the large cells release their juice, it feels as if CO2 is brought into play. To stay with the analogy: Paradis Sparkling® is the first apple that is not ‘still’, but ‘sparkling’!
This apple variety is so different that I can remember the exact day when I selected it in the field amongst thousands of seedlings. In
general, apples at this early stage are just mere numbers and they are
only able to undergo more intensive testing and over the years, they
gain personality and stature. But on that day in September 2006, I was
with my cousin Robert, a psychiatrist. He wanted to do something
tangible for one day, eat fruits, with both feet on the ground. Then we
walked by an apple tree and we really wanted to skip over it because the
apples looked somewhat unattractive. But something pulled me back, I
turned around, grabbed an apple, cut a slice for Robert and one for me -
and we ate a Paradis Sparkling® apple for the very first time! This is
what I wrote in my notes: "sour, sweet and tangy. Effervescent tablet,
texture is very unique.”
And a year later, also very uncommon
in breeding, where the variety name is usually assigned just before the
market launch, it got its present name. Tomi Hungerbühler, the apple
whisperer, bit into apple no. 85 - and exclaimed spontaneously:
“Sparkling!” Yes, that is just how it felt and feels when this apple is
eaten in its ideal full ripeness.
Did I mention that the first
fruits in 2006 were pretty unattractive? I wouldn’t judge our Sparkling®
apple this hard today, but perhaps the taste obscures my eyes? Anyway, I
consider it my duty and obligation to point out some negative
characteristics of Sparkling®:
It is irregular in shape and size; it can produce huge apples or even medium-sized apples, on the same tree, in the same year.
Its colouring is irregularly striped, with a red base colour that is not always bright. There is not just one harvest period, but the tree must be picked 3-4 times.
Haven’t I now just pronounced the death sentence for the new variety Paradis Sparkling®?
No, not at all! All these “negative” points cause no real problems in
home gardens; the inferential maturity may even be an advantage! And
that Paradis Sparkling® is not the most beautiful apple out there today
only shows us what ultimately counts: inner qualities!“