2nd Generation Genetically Engineered Potato Gets USDA Approval (1st Already Sold Out In Stores)

The 1st generation GE potatoes, 400 acres of them, “sold out last year in grocery stores across the Midwest and Southeastern US.” They didn’t appear to have a GMO label. Has anyone seen them? They’re called “Innate.”

The 2nd generation has less bruising like the 1st, but also resists blight, which was the cause of the Irish potato famine. The genes for blight resistance come from a potato variety from Argentina. So now it’s not just turning genes off (1st generation), it’s gene insertion.


A genetically modified Innate potato, left, made by J.R. Simplot, next to a bruised conventional potato. The Innate potato also doesn’t turn brown when cooked. Egads. Source: New York Times

Last Friday, The USDA approved Simplot’s 2nd generation GE potato. There are six varieties, all called “Innate.”

USDA Press Release: J.R. Simplot Late Blight Resistant, Low Acrylamide Potential, Reduced Black Spot Bruising, Lowered Reducing Sugar GE Potato, 28 August 2015 (Second generation)

US Federal Register: J.R. Simplot Co.; Determination of Nonregulated Status of Potato Genetically Engineered for Low Acrylamide Potential and Reduced Black Spot Bruise, 10 November 2014 (First generation)

The FDA said the 1st generation was safe to eat. They haven’t weighed in on the 2nd generation, nor has the EPA. Here’s what FDA said about 1st generation:

FDA concludes Arctic Apples and Innate Potatoes are safe for consumption, 20 March 2015

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its evaluation for two varieties of apples genetically engineered by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., and for six varieties of potatoes genetically engineered by J. R. Simplot Company and concluded that these foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts.

Simplot, of Boise, Idaho, submitted to the FDA a summary of their safety and nutritional assessments.

It is a company’s continuing responsibility to ensure that food it markets is safe and otherwise in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements. In certain circumstances, characteristics of these varieties of apples and potatoes that differ from their conventional counterparts may require disclosure to the consumer.

The FDA did not conduct a safety assessment; the maker of the potato, Simplot, did. Simplot concluded it was safe.

Here’s what the Center For Food Safety said about these potatoes:

Poorly Tested Gene Silencing Technology to Enter Food Supply with Simplot Potato, Center for Food Safety, 7 November 2014

Analysis of RNAi by a panel of independent scientists requested by the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that there were many significant uncertainties about potential risks from this technology, and that current risk assessment procedures were not adequate. Despite such cautions USDA is rushing the technology forward.

Unlike earlier genetic engineering techniques that splice in segments of DNA, the new technique used in the Simplot potato and Monsanto’s low-lignin alfalfa is based on the manipulation of the plant’s RNA-based control mechanisms. RNA interference (RNAi) induces the plant to silence or dial back expression of the plant’s own genes, such as those responsible for natural processes like browning or lignin production. However, RNA manipulations may end up turning down, or off, genes other than those that were targeted because many genes contain similar, or even identical, stretches of DNA. Current testing requirements do not reliably detect such effects on other important crop genes.

These potatoes are also silenced for genes affecting sugar production and the amino acid asparagine. … The asparagine gene has also been shown in recent research to be important in plant defenses against pathogens. The Simplot potato was not adequately tested for a possible weakening of its ability to defend itself against disease. If this occurs in the field, it could lead to increased fungicide use, greater farmer expense, and possibly reduced productivity. The latter effect was seen in several tests of these potatoes.

1 thought on “2nd Generation Genetically Engineered Potato Gets USDA Approval (1st Already Sold Out In Stores)

  1. Bix Post author

    Why do we have to depend upon the safety testing of the company that makes the product? That seeks to make money from the product? Why isn’t there an independent, third-party tester? Or even the FDA?


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