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Are potatoes genetically modified?

Submitted by: Phyllis


Expert response from Joe Guenthner

Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Idaho

Thursday, 18/12/2014 14:58

There are currently no potatoes sold in the United States that are genetically modified. In 1995, NatureMark introduced NewLeaf potatoes, with resistance to the Colorado potato beetle, and subsequent generations with resistance to potato leaf roll virus (PLRV), and potato virus Y (PVY). The potatoes were withdrawn from the market in 2001.


More recently, the J.R. Simplot Company received USDA approval for Innate genetically modified potatoes. These potatoes — available in Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties — are expected to be sold in the United States beginning in the spring of 2015. Innate potatoes were bred without foreign genes. Similar to traditional breeding, they use only genes from wild and cultivated potatoes. Some people refer to this as “green GM.”


Innate potatoes’ health and environmental benefits for farmers and consumers. First, they bruise about 40 percent less than conventional potatoes and will not show black spots or browning when peeled and prepared. This can help reduce an estimated 400 million pounds of russet potato waste that go to landfills each year from restaurants and supermarkets. Consumers will also throw away fewer potatoes because of black spot. With fewer bruised potato rejects, farmers can market more of their crop and reduce pesticide, water and carbon dioxide from farm production.


Secondly, Innate potatoes have up to 70 percent less acrylamide than conventional potatoes when cooked at high temperatures. Acrylamide is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in most starchy foods but is a probable carcinogen in laboratory animals when consumed at high doses. Subsequent generations of Innate promise to lower acrylamide by 90 percent or more, providing a healthier option for consumers.


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