Bruise-free Potato Unwanted?

Published online: Jun 10, 2003
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A money-saving, non-bruising potato developed in Australia eight years ago is in limbo-up for grabs on overseas markets-not wanted by domestic growers.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization developed the genetically modified potato after five years of research in 1995 from the Atlantic crisping variety.

When a potato is cut or damaged, its phenolic compounds, or anti-oxidants, mix with its polyphenol oxidase. This makes potatoes turn brown, or bruise, and affects its taste.

The CSIRO scientists used gene technology to turn off the PPO gene. They did this by inserting the gene back-to-front, or by slightly altering its structure. CSIRO patented the technology worldwide.

In Australia, about $5 million worth of potatoes are lost because of black spot bruising.

Researchers were surprised and disappointed by the reaction with the Australian industry rejecting the development.

The industry decided not to go with GM potatoes. Australian growers said it was a great idea for the future.

The technology was licensed to Monsanto in the United States. A non-bruising variety was close to release in the United States when the giant company decided to pull out of potatoes.