USDA Oks Modified Potatoes
Two types of genetically modified potatoes have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are engineered to have fewer black spots, to be more resistant to bruising and to late blight—the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine—to have a longer storage capacity, and to produce less of a potentially cancer-causing chemical when cooked at high temperatures.
The genetically engineered potatoes are produced by J.R. Simplot Co. in Idaho. Before they become available, they will undergo a voluntary review process by the Food and Drug Administration and must be cleared by the Environmental Protection Agency. The two varieties of potatoes—along with a third type that has already been approved by the USDA and the FDA—are expected to be on the market in the spring of 2017.
According to the company, the new potatoes will reduce the use of pesticides on potato farms by about 45 percent. Decreased bruising and improved storage capability will help reduce waste and increase crop yields. This is the second generation of genetically modified potatoes produced by the company. GMOs are considered safe to eat, but the issue remains controversial for some.
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