Touch the Soil News #171
Last Friday, August 28, 2015, the USDA gave the green light for the Innate potato (a genetically modified potato) by giving it a “no regulated status.” In essence, J.R. Simplot Company – the creator of the Innate potato – is free to move forward to the next regulatory steps at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Innate potato technology supposedly makes the potato less likely to black spot bruising and resists late blight. Late blight is a potato disease that infects plants during the growing season – causing the plant to prematurely die.
Haven Baker, Vice President of plant sciences at Simplot said that the potato’s modifications were made by silencing existing genes or adding genes from other types of potatoes. This process uses technology called RNA interference. Critics claim that we know too little about this process and the long-term effects on human health and the environment.
The innate potato can be stored at colder temperatures and will resist browning when it is cut open. Simplot hopes to use this trait to solve the browning of pre-cut potatoes – something that presently requires potatoes to be frozen.
One of Simplot’s largest customers is McDonald’s USA which buys some 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes in the U.S. every year. Last year, McDonalds said it does not source any GMO potatoes. We will see what happens.
As for the public, GMO potatoes are not required to be labeled as such or disclosed. Following is a short video clip by Haven Baker of Simplot on the GMO potato who is a Harvard Business School alumnus.