Simplot’s New Biotech Potato Receives USDA Clearance

November 12, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted its approval to a new series of potatoes developed through “genetic engineering” techniques by the J.R. Simplot Company of Boise, ID. The announcement that Simplot’s Innate™ line does not need to be regulated was published in the Federal Register Nov. 10 by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

The new Innate™ varieties feature reduced blackspot bruising and low levels of asparagine along with resistance to browning when tubers are cut. Asparagine is an indicator of acrylamide formation when potatoes are subjected to elevated temperatures as in baking and frying. Exposures of lab animals to extremely high concentrations of acrylamide have been associated with health risks to the animals.

The improved traits of the new Innate™ line were achieved through biotech methods that transfer desired characteristics from wild potato species and other cultivated potatoes into new varieties. The technology improves breeding efficiency over conventional techniques and shortens the time period to commercialization. The tedious system of conventional breeding employs selections that bring along other genetic baggage with desirable attributes and leads to an overwhelming rate of rejection.

New plant products involving genetic engineering are subject by law to APHIS scrutiny. After exhaustive review of the Innate™ varieties and evaluation of public comments concerning their commercialization, the agency found “no significant impact” would occur from their release and therefore made a determination of “non-regulated status” of the line.

Simultaneously APHIS opened another comment period ending Jan. 9, 2015 on Simplot’s petition for evaluation of its next generation of Innate™ potatoes, which will add the valuable traits of late-blight resistance and lowered reducing sugars to those already achieved. The petition is available at with “APHIS-2014-0076” typed in the search box. Comments can also be entered at that site.

The newly approved varieties still have to undergo a “voluntary safety consultation” through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they can enter the marketplace. Following FDA approval Simplot plans to sell them only in the chip, fresh-cut and fresh markets.

Simplot expects the diminishing of impact and pressure bruising offered by the Innate™ line to have a strongly positive effect in potato utilization. According to company calculations, the potential for waste reduction at retail and in foodservice is 400 million pounds annually. Use of these potatoes is also expected to significantly reduce consumers’ potato wastage, which is estimated at 3 billion pounds per year.

The Weekly Potato Report