3 GMO, Late-Blight-Resistant Potato Varieties Get EPA Approval


An Innate Gen 2 Atlantic potato [left] compared to a Snowden. Photo courtesy of J.R. Simplot Company

The EPA and FDA have signed off on three new genetically modified (GMO) potato varieties from J.R. Simplot Company. The introduced genetic material is from wild potato varieties that are resistant to late blight.

The three new varieties, Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, and Atlantic are part of the Innate Gen. 2 line from Simplot. The company touts the new varieties as less prone to bruising and black spot, containing less asparagine, having enhanced cold storage capability, and resistant to late blight pathogens.

The genetic material used to achieve late blight resistance comes from a wild South American potato species. Simplot believes the resistant varieties will reduce fungicide applications by up to 50%.

Simplot also says the new varieties’ reduced asparagine result in acrylamide accumulations being reduce by up to 90%. And lowered reducing sugars allow for cold storage at 38°F for more than six months without the build-up of sugars.

“The Innate Gen. 2 potato is the most significant advancement to date in fighting late blight disease in North America,” says David Douches, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Potato Breeding and Genetics Program at Michigan State University. “Since late blight disease impacts both organic and conventional potato crops on a commercial scale and must be treated with fungicides, Innate provides the opportunity for a significant reduction.”