The Food and Drug Administration has recently given a green light to a genetically modified potato engineered to resist a pathogen that is responsible for causing the Irish Potato Famine. No different than with their approval of GM salmon, the FDA seems oblivious to risk assessment and consumer concerns that deem a GM potato undesirable, claiming that the GE potato is indeed safe for consumption.
In a letter to J.R. Simplot Co., the makers of the GM potato, the FDA said that it wasn’t substantially-different in composition or safety from other products already on the market, and doesn’t require any more stringent vetting.
However, several studies carried out by scientists independent of the biotech industry have revealed glaring differences between GMOs and their non-GMO counterparts. This makes a mockery of the regulatory principle of ‘Substantial Equivalence’ which has facilitated approvals of GMOs with practically no protection for public health and the environment.
Doug Cole, J.R. Simplot’s director of marketing and communications said:
“We’re pleased and hope that consumers recognize the benefits once it’s introduced into the marketplace next year.”
There is only one hurdle left for the company before they can unleash the GM potato to consumers – the approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but the company expects that to happen as early as this December, with plans to go to market right away. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the potato in August.
But the approval doesn’t come without consumer backlash; the new GMO potato represents yet another reason we need to adopt GMO labeling across the country. Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and Just Label It, said:
“The approval of the Simplot potato is yet another reason that consumers should have a right to know what’s in their food and how it was produced. With the previous approval of other GMO potatoes, the Arctic apple and AquAdvantage salmon—the first GMO animal approved for human consumption—GMO foods are no longer relegated to the processed food shelves.”
Consumers should be trusted with the information to decide what food is right for their families. Companies should be proud of their products and support clear GMO labeling, just as Campbell Soup Company has done in announcing that it favors a national mandatory labeling system and will begin labeling its own products nationwide.”
Both McDonald’s and Frito Lay have said they will not purchase GM potatoes to pass on to their customers, largely due to consumer backlash.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.