Boise, Idaho-based J.R. Simplot has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove regulations on its genetically modified potato varieties because no non-potato genes were involved.
On May 3, the USDA published a Federal Register notice opening a 60-day comment period on J.R. Simplot’s petition for non-regulatory status.
After the period closes, the USDA will review the comments and issue an environmental assessment, which will undergo another 30-day comment period before the agency issues its final decision.
Courtesy J.R. SimplotThe genetically modified Innate russet burbank potato can't be told apart visually from a conventional russet burbank.The potato varieties bred by Simplot Plant Sciences have less of the possible carcinogen acrylamide, less bruising and reduced darkening when sliced, said Haven Baker, vice president of plant sciences.
At the same time, varieties developed using the Innate Technology, as the Boise, Idaho-company calls its patented approach, showed no significant difference in nationwide field trials or taste tests compared with non-genetically modified counterparts, he said
At the National Potato Council’s annual meeting in January 2012, in Orlando, delegates approved a biotetchnology policy that stated they support “technology and scientific advancements to improve its products, enhance food safety and reduce the environmental footprint of the industry.”
They also acknowledged that some governments and customers may be reluctant to accept the technology.
As a result, they recommended that all developers and marketers manage the varieties to avoid market disruptions.
The delegates also recommended that developers and marketers adopt identify preservation systems. But they didn’t go so far as to recommend the potatoes be labeled at the consumer level.
John Keeling, executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based NPC, said the Food and Drug Administration continues to study the acrylamide issue. But based on current scientific knowledge, he said consumers shouldn’t change their potato consumption patterns.
“It’s under study, and it’s something that people want to figure out whether there are impacts on human health,” he said. “It’s a possible carcinogen in lab rats, but we don’t know what happens in the human gut and what impacts it has on humans.”
Innate Technology involves inserting genes from potatoes that quiet specific functions, such as bruising or asparagine production.
Asparagine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in potatoes. When mixed with sugars ― such as those also found naturally in potatoes ― and then subjected to high temperatures, asparagine forms acrylamide.