This week Canadian officials announced that three types of GM potatoes, engineered by an Idaho company to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine, are safe for the environment and safe for Canadians to eat. The approval by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency means the potatoes can be imported, planted, and sold in Canada. 1 (The Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, and Atlantic potatoes were approved by U.S. regulatory agencies in February.)
Health Canada spokeswoman Renelle Briand stated that the company has no objection to the sale of food derived from J.R. Simplot (the Idaho company) and that any misshapen potatoes that cannot be sold will be used as feed for livestock.
Potatoes, which are the fourth food staple crop in the world (behind corn, rice, and wheat) can suffer from blight, especially when grown in wetter regions. Simplot says their GM potatoes have been spliced with only potato genes and that “the resistance to late blight comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense.”2The potatoes also have “reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity and a lower amount of a chemical that’s a potential carcinogen and is created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures.”3
The potatoes are currently available for purchase in 40 states and 4,000 supermarkets. So, be on the lookout. Or better yet, just buy organic.