The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its blessing to two new varieties of genetically engineered apples and six varieties of potatoes on earlier this month. The FDA called the new strains “as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts,” a surprising assessment in an age where genetically modified foods are perceived by many to be bad. The latest approval covers six varieties of potatoes by Boise, Idaho-based J. R. Simplot Co. and two varieties of apples from the Canadian company Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.
However, McDonald’s, which is one of Simplot’s oldest business partners, will reportedly not use the potatoes. “McDonald’s USA does not source GMO potatoes nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practice,” the company said in a statement Friday.
The “Innate potatoes” have been genetically engineered to reduce the formation of black spot bruises and produce less acrylamide when they are fried. The new apples are similarly trying to resist browning when their skin is broken. The companies say that their changes will result in less food waste and will make their produce healthier and easier to transport without spoilage. While food waste is a major issue that environmentalists and food activists have been addressing in the U.S. for some time, not everyone is convinced that genetically modified produce is the answer.
It’s not clear whether Okanagan or Simplot will tag their new products with the label “genetically engineered organisms” or GMOs. Many consumer groups have advocated compulsory labeling of genetically engineered foods. The FDA states that foods derived from genetically engineered plants must meet the same legal standards, including safety standards, as foods derived from traditional plant breeding methods. The FDA also reminded consumers that “people have been modifying plants for thousands of years through breeding and selection.”
How do you weigh in on this topic? Would you eat these new genetically engineered apples and potatoes?