FDA Approves Genetically Modified Potato Engineered to Resist Blight and Produce Lower Amounts of Potential Carcinogen

A GMO potato that resists blight has been approved by the FDA, but must be registered with the EPA before reaching the US market
FDA Approves Genetically Modified Potato Engineered to Resist Blight and Produce Lower Amounts of Potential Carcinogen

J.R. Simplot

When fried, the genetically modified Innate russet Burbank potato (left) contains less of a potential carcinogen called acrylamide than non-modified potatoes. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has completed its safety evaluation of a genetically modified potato from the J.R. Simplot Company, a modified russet Burbank varietal called Innate.

J.R. Simplot will still need to complete its registration with the Environmental Protection Agency before Innate potatoes can reach U.S. markets.

The name “innate” was chosen because the vegetable’s genetic modification comes from the insertion of adapted versions of genes that are already found naturally in both wild and cultivated potatoes. The modified genes serve to shut down some of the potato’s original genes in a process called “gene silencing.”

Notably, the Innate potato, which is in its second generation of development, has been modified to resist the fungus-like pathogen responsible for late blight, which led to the Irish potato famine. The GMO potato is also more resistant than non-modified potatoes to bruising, an aesthetic consideration which might be valuable to the restaurant industry. When fried, the Innate potato also produces up 90 percent less of a common chemical called acrylamide, which is produced when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures, and has been linked to cancer in lab rats.

So far, both McDonald’s and Frito-Lay have rejected use of Simplot’s modified potatoes — though the first generation Innate potato is already in supermarkets

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