Mar 6, 2017
Innate Gen. 2 receives EPA, FDA clearances

The J.R. Simplot Company announced the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have completed their independent reviews and granted registrations and clearances for three varieties of Simplot’s second generation of Innate potatoes. The three varieties have already been deregulated by USDA so these new agency registrations and clearances permit these proprietary bioengineered potatoes to be grown and sold in the United States.

The Innate Gen. 2 Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties provide benefits to growers, processors and consumers. The benefits, according to Simplot, are: reduced bruising and black spots, reduction of the natural chemical compound asparagine, protection from late blight pathogens and enhanced cold storage capability. These benefits were achieved through biotechnology by adapting genes only from wild and cultivated potatoes.

Late blight, a major contributing factor for the historic Irish potato famine, is caused by a fungus-like pathogen and still has the potential to devastate world potato crops. Innate Gen. 2 potatoes express a gene from a South American wild potato species that provides natural protection against certain strains of the pathogen.

Simplot estimates that the late blight protection trait can result in up to a 50 percent reduction in fungicide applications annually to control late blight. Reduced asparagine means that accumulation levels of acrylamide can be reduced by up to 90 percent when these potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. In addition, lowered reducing sugars enable cold storage at 38°F for more than six months without the build-up of sugars.

Based on academic estimates from the American Journal of Potato Research, it is estimated that late blight disease contributes to 5 percent in-field yield loss and 1.7 percent storage loss each year in the U.S. which is the equivalent of 71,000 acres or 1.4 billion wasted pounds. Late blight protection similar to Innate could result in the reduction of 1.2 million acre applications of fungicides overall.

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