The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasconcludedthat J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation of Innate Russet Burbank potatoes are not materially different in composition, safety and other parameters from other potatoes or potato-derived food currently on the market. FDA’s safety consultation was voluntarily requested by Simplot and after the regulation of those same potatoes by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, the company must still register the potatoes with the Environmental Protection Agency before they can be introduced for sale in the U.S. marketplace.

This second generation of Innate potatoes are designed to produce four benefits to growers, producers and consumers:

1. Reduced bruising and black spots.

2. Reduced asparagines.

3. Resistance to late blight pathogens.

4. Enhanced cold storage.

Blight resistance and enhanced cold storage are the updates to thefirst generationof Innate potatoes approved in March of 2015 by FDA which were designed primarily to have less bruising and black spots. Blight resistance is possible because the potatoes contain a gene from a South American potato that gives them a natural resistance to certain strains of the pathogen. Cold storage is enhanced because the lowered reducing sugars enable cold storage at 38 degrees Fahrenheit for more than six months without the buildup of sugars, thus maintaining quality.

According to academics consulted by Simplot, the potatoes’ blight resistance can result in a 25-45% reduction of fungicide application annually to control late blight, which was the disease responsible for the historic Irish Potato Famine. The company contends that these modifications will reduce waste and environmental impact.

Upon the approval of Innate’s first generation of potatoes, large food companies such as Frito-Lays and McDonald’srefusedto use the genetically modified potatoes for their products. Consumer confidence in genetically modified organisms (GMO) is low, making companies fear an association with them. This is evident in many food companies’ aversion to GMO labeling and their reluctance to accept or acknowledge the use of new GMOs in their products. The same will likely be true of this new generation of Innate potatoes.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online 1/25/2016