Genetically Engineered Potatoes

Genetically Engineered Potatoes

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With Today's Fruit Grower Report, I'm Bob Larson. Two types of genetically engineered potatoes that show resistance to Late Blight, that caused the Irish potato famine, have a thumbs up from the USDA.

The agency approved commercial planting of the Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties, two of J.R. Simplot's second generation Innate potatoes that have also shown reduced bruising and black spots, along with longer cold storage capacity.

National Potato Council CEO John Keeling says it's good news ...

JOHN KEELING ... "You know, they offer some promise for improvements in both the potato, in terms in it's sort of durability and reduction of bruises, as well as potential for different storage characteristics as well reducing some of the pressure from Light Blight. And just like any kind of technology, we support the farmer's access to those technologies when they've been proven safe. And the USDA regulatory process has taken a look at these and found, based in the characteristics, that they are safe for the environment."

Keeling says Washington growers could benefit as well ...

JOHN KEELING ... "Well, I think there is potential benefit for growers all across the country. Certainly Light Blight hasn't been as big an issue in Washington as it might have been in other places, but storage characteristics and other things can be very valuable to any growers. And growers are just going to have to experiment and see what the value is to them individually and make a decision like they would on other technological improvements. And so, the growers and the market place will be the factor that says what the value is and what the value's not."

The JR Simplot company reports the new traits were achieved by adding only genes from wild and cultivated potatoes.

The company is now waiting for completion of the EPA registration and FDA consultation before the new potatoes are available for consumers.

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