BOISE, Idaho—A dozen years after a customer revolt forced Monsanto to ditch its genetically engineered potato, an Idaho company aims to resurrect high-tech potatoes.
This month, tuber processing giant J.R. Simplot Co. asked the U.S. government to approve five varieties of biotech potatoes. They're engineered not to develop ugly black bruises—McDonald's, which gets many of its fries from Simplot, rejects those. They're also designed to have less of a natural but potentially cancer-causing neurotoxin, acrylamide.
Much has changed in 12 years, according to the Boise-based company.
Unlike transgenic varieties Monsanto commercialized in the 1990s using genes from synthetic bacteria to kill insect pests, Simplot's new Innate-brand potatoes use only potato genes.
Haven Baker, Simplot's Yale- and Harvard University-trained vice-president of plant sciences, said his scientists journeyed inside the vegetable's genome to "silence" unwanted attributes, while making sure it remained 100 percent potato.
"You'll never get as much beneficial effect from traditional plant breeding," he said. "And it'll take twice as long."
SOURCE: John Miller, AP