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Food, Agriculture, and Animals

Feds Consider Second Genetically Engineered Potato Out Of Idaho

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J.R. Simplot Co.
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The Simplot company’s genetically engineered Innate potatoes, compared with a conventional potato.";

A major Idaho ag company is seeking federal approval to market a second genetically engineered potato. 

The J.R. Simplot Co. won approval for its first potato late last year. The Innate potato, as it’s branded, is due to be the first genetically engineered spud on the market -- a newcomer that just last month was the center of attention in a spot on comedy news program the Daily Show.

Simplot dubbed it “Innate” because the inserted genes come from other potatoes.

The company's second potato is engineered to be resistant to late blight disease, which was behind the Irish Potato Famine.

Simplot spokesman Doug Cole said it also has less sugar build up during refrigeration.

"And that’s significant for farmers, because when the potato is actually sold to a processor they won’t turn dark brown or black," he said.

Like the first Innate potato, this Russet Burbank is also engineered to be bruise resistant and produce less of a potentially harmful chemical when fried.

The USDA begins taking public comments on environmental and pest risk assessments this week.

Meanwhile, it’s still unknown how consumers will react to genetically engineered potatoes at all. The first generation Innate potato goes on sale in test markets this summer.

One major potato buyer, McDonalds, has already said it won’t buy genetically engineered spuds.