Gene-Modified Potatoes Approved in U.S.

Three varieties of genetically modified potatoes have been approved by U.S. officials.

The Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes -- designed to resist late blight, the pathogen that caused the 19th century Irish potato famine -- are safe for the environment and safe to eat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, the Associated Press reported.

The potatoes were previously approved by the Department of Agriculture, and Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. can now plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall.

The new potatoes contain genes from an Argentine variety of potato that is naturally resistant to late blight. The three varieties contain no DNA from an unrelated organism, according to the company.

There is no evidence that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are unsafe to eat, but some groups oppose changing the genetic code of foods, the AP reported.

The new potatoes do not quality as non-GMO, according to the Non-GMO Project, a Washington state-based organization that is against GMOs and verifies non-GMO food and products.

"There is a growing attempt on the part of biotechnology companies to distance themselves from the consumer rejection of GMOs by claiming that new types of genetic engineering ... are not actually genetic engineering," the group said in a statement, the AP reported.

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