On Friday, the USDA announced that it approved production of “Innate” potatoes, genetically modified by the Simplot company to
- Resist blight
- Store longer at cold temperatures
- Not turn brown when cooked
- Produce less acrylamide
The official Federal Register notice is published here.
Earlier this year, the FDA “completed its consultation” with Simplot:
Simplot’s varieties of Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank and Atlantic potatoes are collectively known by the trade name “Innate” and are genetically engineered to reduce the formation of black spot bruises by lowering the levels of certain enzymes in the potatoes.
In addition, they are engineered to produce less acrylamide by lowering the levels of an amino acid called asparagine and by lowering the levels of reducing-sugars. Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, and has been found to be carcinogenic in rodents.
These sound like useful traits. According to the Simplot video (worth watching), the company is proud of having produced a “better, more sustainable potato.”
- Will Simplot voluntarily label its potatoes as genetically modified with enhanced characteristics? There is precedent for doing so. In the early 1990s, Calgene intended to do just that with its GM tomatoes (but the tomatoes failed in production and Monsanto bought the company).
- Will McDonald’s use Innate potatoes for its French Fries?
- Will supermarkets carry them?
I will be watching this one with great interest.