This news update on the US Apple Ban is brought to you by Quartz.
In March, EU food safety authorities effectively blocked US non-organic apples from import by lowering the amount of diphenylamine (DPA) that the apples can contain.
The EU banned its own farmers from using DPA, a growth-regulating chemical that could be be linked to cancer, back in 2012, but it is still permitted and used widely in the US and Canada.
It’s pretty clear that DPA itself doesn’t cause cancer. But that’s not what the European Commission was worried about. When DPA breaks down and combines with nitrogen, it might form nitrosamines, a family of chemicals that cause cancer in lab rats and have been associated with esophageal and stomach cancer in humans (pdf). The possible presence of nitrosamines was the sticking point for the European Commission. An EC task force on DPA couldn’t find any compelling evidence that DPA didn’t form nitrosamines, which prompted the US Apple Ban.
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