A new variety of potato has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is a genetically modified potato created by Simplot and introduced under the name ‘Innate’. The GMO mutant is expected to overflow the U.S. market and is presented by its producer as a good invention that implements the achievements of modern technology. However, there are many concerns about the introduction of this super-potato, and the Center for Food Safety is planning to fight the USDA’s approval decision.
The advantages of the new GMO potato
Simplot’s new potato promises to contain less of the carcinogenic compound acrylamide, which is produced when potatoes are fried at high temperatures, for example when preparing the popular french fries (and this is indeed one of the top 5 cancer causing foods to avoid). What makes Innate so attractive to businesses is its characteristic to brown slower than the non-GM potato. This means that it can be cut and still maintain its appearance for a long time. Simplot is planning to sell pre-cut potatoes to restaurants and supermarkets, which already showed interest in potato with a longer life span.
Simplot is trying to assure the public that the engineering methods they use are less aggressive and alarming than those used by Monsanto. They claim that they have done safety assessments and field tests and that their creation uses only DNA from potatoes themselves. The potatoes were trialed in 8 states and declared safe – from the perspective of the producer.
Doug Gurian-Sherman, a plant pathologist and senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety, is not convinced by the industry’s safety proclamations. He believes that the methods used to temper with the Innate’s RNA are untested, and that the genetic technology is not being properly regulated. Moreover, one of Innate’s suppressed substances actually plays an important role in potato’s ability to fight off pests. The removal of this substance might result in a wider use of pesticides (and potatoes are one of the “dirty dozen” fruit and vegetables with the most pesticides for 2014).
Generally speaking, changing the plants’ natural genetic make-up has implications on human health and the environment (and in this regard, read my previous article about a major study that links GMOs to liver/kidney damage, cancer and severe hormonal disruptions). Introduction of yet another GMO is definitely nothing to celebrate. The American public is increasingly aware of the dangers of GMO and more and more people choose to buy organic products. A recent survey by the Organic Trade Association revealed that about 25% of people who buy organic, do that to avoid GMO foods.
And we in India are also giving a chance to these multinational giants to fiddle with the genetics of our natural products. Every attempt should be made to boycott these multinational companies and prevent them from entering India. more