Potato is a staple food for most homes around the world.
The Irish potato is commonly consumed by Americans and Europeans and has been a daily meal for a lot of homes for centuries.
With a growing global demand for potatoes there has been an increase in research over the development of a genetically modified crop that will meet both the demand and solve some of the problems with regular potatoes.
The USDA in recognition of this gave it’s authorisation to SIMPLOT -- one of the world’s largest agribusinesses to create a GMO potato
Why a GMO Potato?
The need for a GMO potato came about because of the following;
- A desire to produce potatoes that produce less carcinogens when heated or fried. Simplot’s GMO Potatoes are believed to generate 75% less carcinogens when they are heated or fried.
- Potatoes that are tough and do not bruise easily.
- Potatoes that don’t change color (i.e. Turn brown) after they are cut and for many hours.
Have these potatoes being put through field trials?
Between 2001 to 2009 the GMO potatoes of Simplot were said to have underwent ‘successful’ field trials in the United States.
According to Simplot their GMO potatoes are safe for human consumption.
A statement from their Idaho branch which processes above three (3) billion GMO potatoes a year read; “This approval comes after a decade of scientific development, safety assessments and extensive field tests”
Eight (8) states in all were involved and these states are: Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.
Is the GMO potato by Simplot safe?
The benefits of this GMO potato by Simplot may seem genuine on the surface.
Having a potato that is tough and doesn’t change color hours after its cut is good.
Also a potato that generates less carcinogens when heated or fried is also good news for the health of people.
However, the concern with this GMO potato as with other GMO crops is its long term implication to the overall health of consumers, the environment and the ecosystem.
This concern has been expressed by many scientists such as Doug Gurian-Sherman, a plant pathologist and senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety who told the New York Times that -- “We think this is a really premature approval of a technology that is not being adequately regulated.”
Simplot on there other hand has been vehement in assuring the public of the safety of its GMO potatoes.
They said their potatoes are engineered from the DNA of regular potatoes and does not involved ‘alarming’ or ‘aggressive’ techniques involving the use of bacteria or genes from other plant life as done by other companies such as Monsanto.
Now Simplot also say that the RNA technique it implements is in its experimental stage and that the potatoes ability to combat pests will be diminished as a result.
The concern to environmentalists and scientists is that of the potatoes ability to ward off pests is reduced then it means that there will be an increase in the 800 million pounds of pesticides that is already being sprayed on crops.
Studies have shown that these pesticides cannot be rinsed or washed off.
The Center for Food Safety has highlighted this concern as one of its reasons in its appeal of the USDA approval of the Simplot GMO potatoes.
Simplot’s GMO potatoes will be available in the following places;
The fact that the potatoes don’t change color for hours after they are cut and that they are sturdy and tough has ensured that Simplot plans to use It’s GMO potatoes to target restaurants is an obvious one.
It also intends having these potatoes in supermarkets because of their better shelf life.
Simplot’s director of commercialization -- Kerwin Bradley said:
“This could be a game-changer for the industry!”
Simplot has always been major suppliers of potatoes to McDonald’s and have been doing so for decades.
With their GMO potatoes now available they will more than likely be supplying McDonald’s with their Innate potatoes.
The Food and Water Watch group because of this grim reality is already sending a petition signed by over 100,000 people insisting that McDonald’s places a ban to the use of all GMO potatoes.
How do I avoid this GMO potato?
Well first of all you should stop eating potatoes at McDonald’s.
Secondly, you should also avoid ordering for potatoes at restaurants.
After you have complied with the first two (2) cautions, then you can also follow these three (3) ways of avoiding GMO potatoes:
1. Go organic
Check the Labels on your potatoes and if it doesn’t say: “100% organic” then don’t buy it.
In the United States and Canada companies are not permitted to label their products -100% organic where there is any trace of GMO foods in them.
2. Check for GMO -- free or Non-GM
When you walk into a supermarket check for the “GMO-free” section or the “Non-GMO” section to buy your potatoes.
3. Take your time to read the label
A. Note that modern fruit labels: Always start with the number four (4), they never start with the number nine (9).
B. Understand GMO fruit labels: These start with the number eight (8). It is also a five (5) digit number.
C. Know the organic fruit labels: They come with five (5) digits and start with the number nine (9). Take your time to ensure that you are not misled when checking the labels.
If you already have your list for the ten (10) worst GMO foods in the United States, it is our hope that that the GMO potatoes won’t be given a chance to make your GMO foods list.