Innate potatoes, developed by the agency J.R. Simplot, are the first genetically modified potatoes to be approved by the FDA for consumption. The potatoes have a wide verity of inserted genes added for the benefit of the crop, the farmers growing them, and consumers who purchase them. In the article “What Varieties of Potato are GMO?” on Livestrong, it is reported that the potatoes come in three different varieties- Ranger Russett, Russett Burbank, and Atlantic. Also in the report it was listed that, in their March 2015 press release about their evaluation of the crop and decision that the potatoes passed criteria such as toxicity, potential for allergic reaction, stability of unintended side effect, and more.
The main benefit that is highlighted in media coverage of the Innate potatoes are the same benefits that Arctic Apples were designed to have- a resistance to unattractive bruising and brown spotting on the inside. NPR goes into further detail in “GMO Potatoes Have Arrived. But Will Anyone Buy Them?”, explaining that the reason the agency named the potatoes “Innate” was because the genes used to silence the reaction in the spuds that caused the browning are actual native to potatoes themselves, but that they went unused after a while. Much of the food waste in the world comes from the distribution process, either when processers discard unattractive foods or when consumers at home discard their bruised fruits and vegetables before eating them. The hope is that this process keeps potatoes looking more healthy and attractive so that less will be wasted in the trash.
Another potent benefit of the modified potato, as mentioned in the NPR article, is that the Innate potatoes contain much less of a chemical known as acrylamide, which is triggered in the frying process. Studies on lab rates have shown that consumption of acrylamide increases the potential of cancer in lab rats, a litmus test often showing parallels in humans.
There are a host of other benefits, explains the article “Genetically Modified Potatoes Are Making Their Way to the Produce Section” from Fortune. The potatoes are designed to resist the blight that led to the Irish Potato famine, an inserted gene from another species located in Argentina that grew to resist such pathogens. This kind of blight protection is handy for farmers, as it allows the plant to protect itself from the most common diseases they would have to look out for. The potato is also designed to be able to be stored for a longer period of time at lower temperatures, allowing them to be kept in stores and sold over a greater duration. This is also hoped to reduce the spoils of food waste on the distribution side.
Although there are a great number of seeming benefits to the use of these potatoes, Simplot agency faces the same problems as do the other producers of genetically modified plants- there is still a heavily negative perception of such crops and a reluctance to adopt their use. Big retailers such as the McDonalds Corporation (who has worked with Simplot for many, many years), Frito-Lay, and ConAgra foods have all publically stated they will not use the modified plants. Even with a successful FDA evaluation of the crop, Simplot will have to do more on its end to prove to consumers that their new potatoes are worthy of interest and will do more good for public health than bad. This will be an important obstacle to overcome to a huge market as potatoes are reportedly the third most consumed food crop in the world, according to the International Potato Center.
Addady, M. (2016). Genetically Modified Potatoes Are Making Their Way to the Produce Section. Fortune.
Charles, D. (2015). GMO Potatoes Have Arrived. But Will Anyone Buy Them? NPR.International Potato Center. (2016). Potato. International Potato Center.
Renee, J. (2015). What Varieties of Potatoes Are GMO? Livestrong.