USDA Approves Genetically Engineered Potatoes

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved commercial planting of two types of potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine.

The potatoes next must clear a voluntary review process through the Food and Drug Administration as well as get the OK from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The approval covers Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co.’s Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of the company’s second generation of Innate potatoes.

The company says the potatoes will also have reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity, and a reduced amount of a chemical created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures that’s a potential carcinogen.

“We obviously are very proud of these,” said company spokesman Doug Cole.

The company says it expects those approvals in January with the potatoes entering the market next spring.

The two varieties join a third variety with the same traits called the Russet Burbank that has already Been approved by the Agriculture Department and FDA, with EPA approval also expected in January.

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