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They'll hit stores this fall.
The potatoes of the future are here – whether you like it or not. According to the Associated Press, three new varieties of genetically-engineered potatoes have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, meaning this latest round of GMO potatoes could hit store shelves as soon as this fall.
The final federal stamps of approval acknowledging that these potatoes are safe to eat and safe for the environment will allow Idaho’s J.R. Simplot Company to begin planting the new varieties – dubbed Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic – this spring. Simplot states that these scientifically altered spuds offer up plenty of advantages over traditional taters. First, they use genes from an Argentine variety that makes them resistant to late blight, the infamous pathogen behind the Irish potato famine. And since this disease is often fought with fungicides, Simplot suggests these new varieties could also cut use of fungicides in half.
But the new potatoes have other advantages as well. The varieties are less likely to bruise or have black spots and also have an extended storage life. Plus, they have lower levels of acrylamide – a naturally-occurring chemical that’s gotten a lot of press recently as health groups have warned that high levels of the compound, which increases when potatoes are browned, may cause cancer.
Of course, some health groups aren’t too keen on GMOs either, but Simplot – who is clearly believes GMO produce can be safe – is also putting a positive spin on the way its potatoes were developed. The company says that even though genes have been modified, all the DNA contained in these new products comes exclusively from potatoes and not any sort of unrelated organism.
But for GMO haters preparing to break out the pitchforks, you’re already too late. These three new varieties are actually Simplot’s second generation of this type of genetically-modified potato. The first generation has been sold as White Russets for over two years. And a third generation is already being worked on.
Hey, Simplot, for that third generation, can you splice together a potato that grows pre-mashed?