FDA Approves Some Genetically Modified Apples and Potatoes – WSJ

By Tennille Tracy, Posted March 20 2015

The Food and Drug Administration signed off on genetically modified varieties of apples and potatoes, and for the first time suggested the products might need to carry a label to inform consumers about the ways in which they’re different from conventional varieties.

The so-called Arctic apple, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. in Canada, has been designed to resist browning when cut open or sliced.

The Innate potato, developed by the Idaho-based french fry maker J.R. Simplot Co., is designed to have fewer black spots from bruising and produce lower levels of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen that forms in potatoes when cooked at high temperatures.

The FDA’s approval removes the last regulatory hurdle for both products in the U.S. It could be several months, if not years, before the Arctic apple is available to consumers, but the Innate potato could be introduced in the next few months.

Both the apple and the potato differ from the existing roster of genetically modified crops in that they provide benefits to consumers. Other modified crops, like corn and soybeans, are made to withstand certain pesticides, making them easier for farmers to grow.

The FDA said Friday that it didn’t think the Arctic apple or the Innate potato posed a risk to human health, concluding that “these foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts.”

The FDA is still deciding whether to require labels on the apple or potato, alerting consumers to the traits that make them different from conventional varieties. The agency is unlikely to require a label that identifies the products as being modified.

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