The genetically modified potato was developed by J. R. Simplot Company based in Boise, Idaho, U.S.A. In 2014, the cultivar was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and then, in 2015, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A major potato consumer, McDonald’s has ruled out using GM potato due to public petition to reject it.
Now, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have approved a genetically modified potato for sale in Canada. More likely, the potatoes could be grown in Canada and we can see it in our supermarkets by Thanksgiving.
What is a genetically modified potato? It is a potato with its genes modified using genetic engineering. Usually potatoes are genetically modified to increase pest resistance, to prevent browning or bruising of the tubers, or to contain less of the amino acid asparagine that turns into acrylamide (which is a probable human carcinogen) during the frying of potatoes. Potatoes modified to produce more starch may be approved for industrial use only, not for food.
There is controversy over GMO food. Generally, scientists agree that food from genetically modified crops is not inherently riskier than regular food. There have been no studies proving that people got ill from ingesting GMO food. However, people, health groups and organizations, including Greenpeace, in different countries are concerned about the fact that genetically modified foods have not been adequately identified and managed. Nobody knows the potential long-term impact on human health from food derived from GMOs, and propose mandatory labeling or a moratorium on such products.
About the J. R. Simplot Company:
The company was founded in 1929 by John Richard Simplot when he was 20 years old. When frozen french fries were invented by one the company scientists, Simplot made billions out of its commercialization. By 1970s Simplot was the primary supplier of french fries to McDonald’s and later it supplied more than half of all fries for the fast food chain. Today, Simplot is one of the largest privately owned companies in the world.
The questions are: Would you like to buy GM potatoes? Would you prefer the GMO foods be labeled?