The USDA approved for commercial sale the Innate potato, produced by the JR Simplot company last November. The product is still waiting for FDA approval, who is in the process of reviewing the data. Innate potatoes produce less acrylamide than usual when cooked at high temperatures, and are also less prone to bruising. Moreover, their new technology doesn t involve inserting any foreign genes into the potatoes the reduced acrylamide production is due to the insertion of only different potato genes.
Now, another potato variety - Generation 2 Innate - is being introduced. This variety has all of the characteristics of the Generation 1 variety but also adds late blight resistance and reduces even further the amount of acrylamide produced when the potatoes are fried. Blight is a plant disease caused by fungi which quickly leads to browning and death of the plant. Potatoes are extremely susceptible to blight and thus this resistance is very important if this new product is accepted.
However, as we ve written in the past, although we are in favor of this approval, the fear that led to the creation of this potato - acrylamide - and the fear that this potato brings up - GMO foods - are both unwarranted. Acrylamide is a chemical that forms in foods containing carbohydrates when they re cooked at high temperatures. It is found in about 40 percent of the calories consumed by Americans and has been around for as long as people have been baking, roasting, toasting or frying foods. Only recently have scientists discovered this chemical in food and the these scientists are using rodent studies to make conclusions about human carcinogens.
We have written extensively about the the baseless fears surrounding the use of genetic engineering in agriculture. Scientifically sound information about genetic engineering can be found in our publications on the subject.
Although the USDA approved the Generation 1 Innate potato last November, and has now opened the public comment period for the Generation 2 Innate potato, the question arises as to who will be using this potato. Because of unwarranted public fears about GMOs, McDonalds and Frito-Lay have both made the decision not to use the Simplot potato in their products.
As Dr. Josh Bloom said in the past when we discussed the Generation 1 potato, I probably would have made the same decision, simply for business reasons. Anti-GMO activist groups many of which are funded by the gigantic organic food industry have done a splendid job of scaring people away from GM products, which are no more or less safe than older varieties. If McDonald s chose to use the GM crop, you d better believe that Burger King would launch a We are not going to kill you with our fries campaign faster than you can say Big Mac.
ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, These new potato varieties have the potential to be very beneficial to farmers, as blight is a huge concern especially because potatoes are so susceptible to this infection. However, if this fear of GMOs is still promulgated by the anti-GMO activist groups and the public continues to listen to them, companies such as McDonalds and Frito-Lay will not adopt this technology. We have to continue to fight this uphill battle so that the public listens to messages backed by science.