Expert response from Joe Guenthner
Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Idaho
Wednesday, 01/06/2016 19:53
There are no modern GM sweet potatoes approved for sale in the U.S., Spain or Sweden.
It is possible that the sweet potatoes you have been eating are natural GMOs.
Scientists at the International Potato Center in Peru and the University of Ghent in Belgium discovered that all 291 sweet potato varieties they tested, and some wild types, contained DNA from another species -- Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Simple one-celled bacteria living in the soil are the original genetic engineers.
By comparing wild to farmed varieties the scientists concluded that Agrobacterium DNA has been in sweet potatoes for more than 8000 years. Naturally, prehistoric humans chose to farm the types of sweet potatoes that best suited their needs.
One of the scientists, Jan Kreuze, said the foreign DNA helped the plant’s roots evolve into something edible. Ancient people in Central and South America selected the best plants and domestication of the sweet potato spread to Polynesia, then Asia, Europe and Africa.
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