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U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans

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U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans

By Andrew Pollack | Nytimes.com

08potato-superJumboA potato genetically engineered to reduce the amounts of a potentially harmful ingredient in French fries and potato chips has been approved for commercial planting, the Department of Agriculture announced on Friday.

The potato’s DNA has been altered so that less of a chemical called acrylamide, which is suspected of causing cancer in people, is produced when the potato is fried.

The new potato also resists bruising, a characteristic long sought by potato growers and processors for financial reasons. Potatoes bruised during harvesting, shipping or storage can lose value or become unusable.

The biotech tubers were developed by the J. R. Simplot Company, a privately held company based in Boise, Idaho, which was the initial supplier of frozen French fries to McDonald’s in the 1960s and is still a major supplier. The company’s founder, Mr. Simplot, who died in 2008, became a billionaire.

The potato is one of a new wave of genetically modified crops that aim to provide benefits to consumers, not just to farmers as the widely grown biotech crops like herbicide-tolerant soybeans and corn do. The nonbruising aspect of the potato is similar to that of genetically engineered nonbrowning apples, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which are awaiting regulatory approval.

But the approval comes as some consumers are questioning the safety of genetically engineered crops and demanding that the foods made from them be labeled. Ballot initiatives calling for labeling were rejected by voters in Oregon and Colorado this week, after food and seed companies poured millions of dollars into campaigns to defeat the measures.

The question now is whether the potatoes — which come in the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties — will be adopted by food companies and restaurant chains. At least one group opposed to such crops has already pressed McDonald’s to reject them.

Genetically modified potatoes failed once before. In the late 1990s, Monsanto began selling potatoes genetically engineered to resist the Colorado potato beetle. But the market collapsed after big potato users, fearing consumer resistance, told farmers not to grow them. Simplot itself, after hearing from its fast-food chain customers, instructed its farmers to stop growing the Monsanto potatoes.

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8 Comments on “U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans”

  1. Jack

    What’s wrong with a bruise? Nothing, GOD said what HE made was good! Greed is what’s bad. Every
    congregation should have at least one farmer in it. Regardless if it’s city based or rural. That would be somebody
    worth paying. Bottom line, we control what is put into the body, for now.

  2. Real Woman of God

    I like the sweet potatoes that my father in law grows. Tha k you JESUS for my father in law. Thank you EX Ministries for the heads up!

  3. Bronzer

    This is a lie. Man cannot improve upon what God has provided naturally. So, what, God made a mistake when He provided potatoes? Beware of anything any government says it has approved for the masses. Just saying…

  4. Christina

    This does not sound good to me. Since when does the FDA care about the general population getting cancer? They are lying. They are leaving the real reason out. I say stick with the original God given potatoes.

  5. daabbottone

    Really…Thank for the update. The eyes of man are never full and they doing there job to bring us down. My God (Jesus) watch over his people and keep us safe from man’s foooolishness!

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