'Innate' GMO Potato Seeks Approval from FDA

Thu. January 29th, 2015
- by Andrew McDaniel     

BOISE, ID - J. R. Simplot Company’s ‘Innate’ potato is the closest ever to receiving the golden ticket for in-store sales, RT News reported this morning. Having already received a stamp of approval from the USDA in November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now has the final say on making another step in produce history, or sending the potato back to the lab.

While some see this as a natural progression in technology, even a safer approach with the elimination of danger-causing genes that already exist in our foods, others are wary because of potential future ramifications that cannot yet be predicted.

Alan McHughen, Biotechnologist and Geneticist, UC Riverside“We’ve been eating genetically engineered food products since the middle 90’s and so far there is not a single documented case of harm,” Alan McHughen, a biotechnologist and geneticist at UC Riverside, said to RT News. “That’s a pretty good safety track record, I would be really surprised if this potato would reverse that trend.”

Using genes that already exist in the potato, instead of integrating new ones, is part of the company’s assurance that the potato is not so drastically changed to raise any alarm for future damage as a result of consumption. In fact, it argues having an even safer potato with the removal of the Acrylamide allele, which has been correlated with cancer.

Yet the Center for Food Safety (CFS) still raises questions for the FDA to consider before delivering its decision. Mainly the use of RNA modification that J.R. Simplot has done in order to prevent the bruising and browning that costs potato farmers up to 15% a year in crops.

“We simply don’t know enough about RNA interference (RNAi) technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment,” Doug Gurian-Sherman, the Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Senior Scientist at CFS, commented to RT News. “If this is an attempt to give crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the U.S. regulation of GE crops. These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely worrisome.”

One of the holes concerning the CFS is the lack of legal obligation to identify GMO produce in stores, meaning that customers could have no idea that there is any genetic difference between Innates and other potatoes being sold. While the company has said it is likely to market Innates as a ‘value added product,’ they would not be obligated to do so, nor any store that sells them.

Both give the FDA much to consider before delivering a decision, so stay tuned to ANUK as this story continues to develop.

J. R. Simplot Company