By Heather Callaghan
Today marks the unsurprising approval from the FDA regarding new varieties of genetically engineered potatoes and apples.
The approval applies to six varieties of potatoes from Idaho's J. R. Simplot Co. and two types of apples from Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.; Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. Arctic Apple plantings are planned for 2017.
Enzymes in the products have been genetically altered so that the potatoes will not bruise and the apples will not brown.
“These foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts,” read a statement by the Food and Drug Administration.
Browning prevention. Not exactly a problem stemming from world hunger; but more a matter of convenience. Okanagan, based in British Columbia, boasted that their apples are a more convenient snack with its non-browning version saying bagged apples undergo antioxidant washings. CEO Neal Carter wants bagged apples to be as ubiquitous as baby carrots. Convenience for processed food companies in a convenience-driven world.
“…a whole apple is too big of a commitment.”
However, both the companies and the regulatory agencies are promoting the benefits of the potatoes supposedly having reduced amounts of acrylamide – a potential carcinogen that manifests while frying. Plus, the idea that the foods will appear to be in a fresh state. Some restaurants and food companies might seek the potatoes for a sense of less waste. The company calls its potatoes Innate and claims that the potato traits come from genes that come from domestic potato varieties. They are not planning to sell the seeds on the open commercial market.
Associated Press reports:
The FDA's review process is voluntary. Both companies asked for a review to ensure their products met safety standards. As part of the process, FDA compares safety and data of the genetically engineered food in comparison to a conventional variety.
Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in a statement Friday objected to the voluntary system for approving genetically engineered foods.
While Jaffe conceded to the FDA, companies and media that there was probably no harm in the products, he opposed the voluntary regulatory process that requires no such testing, and nothing even breaching a rigorous look.
In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Artic apples for cultivation and sale, saying it had found that the modified apples were “unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture” or seriously affect the human environment. Those apples are expected to become commercially available in 2017. At the time, some of those who oppose genetically modified crops argued that the department had “glossed over the possibility of unintentional effects associated with the technology used to engineer these apples,” among other potential consequences.
Believe it or not – McDonald's and ConAgra do not plan on using the potatoes due to consumer demand. Unfortunately, the current government/corporate-run food system allows little control to the average American – but at the consumer level, you have much pull.