Watch your back or better yet, watch your spuds — a biotech company called Simplot is coming after your potatoes. Simplot has officially asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve five new varieties of genetically engineered potatoes, named Innate™, which the company has patented. Simplot is also seeking approval of its engineered potatoes in Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea.
Potatoes — The Go-To for Grain Free, Gluten Free Eaters
Do you eat potatoes? Potatoes are one of the “safe starches” for those who are gluten and grain free. I enjoy an occasional potato loaded with butter. Don’t you?
However, they are now under attack by a biotech company who says their potatoes are supposed to be safe because Simplot’s modified potatoes aren’t transgenic. This simply means that Simplot hasn’t crossed genes in their potatoes with genes from other organisms.
That doesn’t mean that they are safe.
No one can really say that eating genetically modified foods is safe. There have not been any long term studies showing the safety. However, there have been studies showing gross deformities in rats who have eaten genetically modified foods.
McDonalds the Biggest Customer
Simplot has engineered 5 varieties of potatoes that will not develop black bruises, because McDonalds rejects those. They are also engineered to reduce the amount of a potentially cancer-causing neurotoxin, acrylamide to occur when cooked in high heat, as fried are.
While this may sound like a good thing, the fact is, we do not know what happens when we try to manipulate genes whether it is transgenic or not.
Who Gets To Eat These Potatoes
With McDonalds as the largest customer, Simplot needs to get the growers for McDonalds on board.
Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission said,
Unless your customers are prepared to embrace this product, it’s not going to be successful.
The Idaho potato industry is worth 3 billion dollars. The Idaho Potato Commission website announces that Idaho potatoes are not genetically engineered. I guess we know where they stand.
California has Cancer Labels on French Fries and Potato Chips
California voters passed a law to strictly mandate these cancer labels on french fries and potato chips.
These GM potatoes would have acrylamide levels so low they would not need to have this off putting label. That is certainly worth something to growers.
These potatoes would also not bruise as much and may save as much as 5% of the harvest. That, too, is worth something to growers.
Similar to the Soon To Be Released, Non Browning GM Apple
This is similar to that of Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ nonbrowning apple. There are no genes from other species in this apple — it is modified to reduce the amount of production of polyphenol oxidase (PPO), which initiates enzymatic browning in apples.
Here again, there are no long term studies showing safety.
Public Outcry Against Monsanto’s GM Potato
In 2003, Monsanto’s GM potato was taken off the market due to public outcry. Huge companies instructed their farmers not to plant the GM (New Leaf) potato because McDonald’s rejected them. They were gone by 2002.
If Simplot can get the public behind their potato — it will be easy to get it approved. It does not have genes from any other species.
Genetic Engineering Dangerous and Unpredictable
However, according to Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette, it’s not just about what genes are spliced into the product, it about the entire modification process. He points out that when Monsanto’s GM potatoes that produced their own insecticides were fed to rats, they exhibited immune system damage, had inhibited brain, liver and testicle development, and precancerous cell growth in their digestive tracts.
Bill Freese, science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety, said Simplot’s potatoes are another of many genetically engineered crops that don’t face rigorous enough USDA or FDA testing. Even with only potato genes, these GM potatoes could still exhibit unpredictable effects on the environment and on humans. He said,
The question is why do they continue to so miscalculate public perception… The biotech approach is to change the food on a genetic level in quite frankly risky ways with inadequate regulation to adapt a crop to an industrial food system that’s really unhealthy in so many ways.
With Each Passing Day New Frankenfoods Are Pushed Into the Food Supply
Without public knowledge, the food supply is changing over to genetically modified foods that will lead us down an unknown path.
What You Can Do
The best way to stop this assault on potatoes is to get them where it hurts — the pocketbook. We need to get their largest customer on board.
Both the apples and the potatoes are geared to hit the markets in 2015 unless something is done.
You may not eat at McDonald’s but they are a critical player in this action. Please sign the petition.
The next obvious action is to buy organic and support local farmers. Know where your food comes from. As you probably can guess, I’m not a fan of McDonald’s, but if we can get them on board we can protect our food supply one potato at a time.