Genetic Engineering 101
Genetic modification involves removing genetic material from one organism and transferring it to the genetic code of another. In food agriculture, this is done for reasons such as to increase the crop's resistance to insects, viruses, diseases and herbicides. For example, to increase resistance to insects, the toxin-producing gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis is inserted into the genetic code of the crop. This toxin is safe for humans to consume, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Varieties of GMO Potatoes
The FDA completed its evaluation of GM potato varieties collectively known by the trade name Innate, according to a March 2015 FDA press release. Safety evaluation of GM foods includes toxicity, allergic potential, stability of the inserted gene, nutritional properties and unintended side effects. The GM varieties approved include Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank and Atlantic, produced by J.R. Simplot Co. The potatoes have been genetically modified to reduce black spots and bruises by lowering certain enzymes. These varieties have also been also modified to produce less acrylamide -- a potentially cancer-causing chemical that forms when starchy foods are heated at high temperatures.
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