You likely already ate some GM potato without knowing it. Over 400 acres worth of GM potatoes were sold in Midwestern grocery stores over the summer, and most of them went unlabeled as such. The second generation of J.R. Simplot Co.’s genetically modified potato has cleared its first federal regulatory hurdle, and the Russet Burbank variety ‘Innate’ has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In the name of a potato that won’t brown or bruise, as this is the reason being given for its genetic alteration, we are expected to eat another genetically modified crop, and like it.
Of course you are interested in the rhetoric provided by Simplot’s vice president of plant sciences, Haven Baker. He says:
“For historical reasons and current agriculture reasons, this is an important milestone. The Irish potato famine did change a lot of Western history. Even today – 160 years later – late blight is a $5 billion problem for the global potato industry.”
The potato modifications were made by silencing existing genes or adding genes from other types of potatoes, not from other plants or animals.
“It’s potato genes in the potato,” he said. “There are clear benefits for everybody, and it’s just a potato.”
One of the company’s oldest business partners – McDonald’s – has already said it does not plan to use the company’s first-generation Innate potato. McDonald’s did not immediately respond to calls for comment about the new potato, so the company will sell to grocery stores instead.
Doug Cole, the company’s director of marketing and communications, said about 400 acres’ worth of the company’s first genetically modified potatoes sold out last summer in grocery stores in 10 states in the Midwest and Southeast. The company plans to market about 2,000 acres of potatoes next summer.
The company said it expects FDA and EPA approvals within a year. Commercial planting would likely begin in 2017, and they are already hard at work on potatoes that will have a resistance to a virus ‘that makes potatoes unmarketable.’