EPA Approves New GM Potato
The EPA has approved three varieties of potato that are resistant to the disease that caused the Irish potato famine. This follows the USDA approval and the potatoes can be planted this coming growing season for commercial purposes. EPA approval was a necessary part of the coordinated framework because the the gene transferred from a wild potato in Argentina codes for a protein that is considered a plant incorporated protectant (PIP).
Many might think the disease that caused the Irish potato famine is a thing of the past, but the disease (phytophthora) is still a major potato pest worldwide. Phytophthora is estimated to reduce potato yields worldwide by 20 percent despite the frequent use of fungicides to control the disease in many areas.
The potatoes were developed as a second generation product and will include the traits of the first generation. The first generation products reduced browning and production of a carcinogen acrylamide when cooked under high temperatures, such a making french fries. This second generation product includes those traits plus improved cold storage in addition to the resistance to phytophthora.
The FDA completed a food and feed safety assessment in January and concluded that these potatoes were not materially different form any other potato or potato-derived food or feed currently on the market.