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NewsBites March 2015 Issue

New GMO Potato Cuts Cancer-Linked Chemical

French-fries and potato-chip fans concerned about cancer risk from fried potatoes may have hope on the horizon. Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. has received USDA regulatory approval for a genetically modified potato that produces less acrylamide when fried. That’s the naturally occurring chemical linked to concerns about increased cancer risk from fried-potato consumption. The “Innate” potato, which comes in Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties, also resists bruising, a potential money-saver for growers and processors.

The bioengineered potato’s name was chosen to reflect the fact that it contains only genes from other potato plants—fragments of DNA that inhibit four genes involved in producing undesirable enzymes. (Future plants, designed to resist blight, will also have genes from wild potatoes.) Unlike other genetically modified (GMO) plants, the Innate potato does not contain genes from bacteria or other species. That hasn’t stopped anti-GMO activists, however, from pressing fast-food companies to reject the new potato. (For more on the pros and cons of GMO foods, see our November 2013 Special Report.)

French-fries lovers and GMO haters alike will have to be patient, in any case, as only a few thousand acres are expected to be planted with Innate potatoes this year. The company will focus on sales of fresh potatoes to supermarkets, food-service firms and potato-chip makers.

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