Jun 20, 2019 | Updated: 03:45 PM EDT

Canada Approves Genetically Engineered Potatoes By An Idaho Company To Avert the Late Blight Problem

Aug 05, 2017 06:32 AM EDT

Potatoes are displayed during the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society's) Early Spring Fair on February 16, 2016 in London, England
(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Canada has recently approved three kinds of genetically engineered potatoes that can bring gene resistance to the late blight problem. A popular Idaho company has brought this development.

Famous Idaho company, J.R. Simplot Co., genetically engineers three kinds of potatoes. These potatoes now can resist the pathogen that resulted in the Irish potato famine. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Health Canada have approved the potatoes. The spokeswoman of the Health Canada Renelle Briand has confirmed this fact.

Now with this approval J.R. Simplot Co. can import the potatoes in Canada to plant and sold them, Phys.org reported. Foods derived from these potatoes of the said company are also safe for the human consumption. A letter sent by the director general of the Health Canada, Karen McIntyre, to the company stated this fact. The Canadian officials also approved the essential environmental release that can be helpful for planting these potatoes and using them for the livestock feed.

Regulatory agencies in the United States approved these three varieties of potatoes in February. These three varieties are the Ranger Russet, Atlantic, and the Russet Burbank. Now Canada's approval will help the two countries to export and import potatoes with each other. These potatoes now can produce gene resistance to the late blight.

The important fact is late blight is responsible for the Irish potato famine. Spokesman of the J.R. Simplot, Doug Cole, utters that field trial as part of the experiments have been taking place in three provinces of Canada. These three Canadian provinces are Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Manitoba.

The Idaho company states that potatoes have the potato genes only, and a specific Argentine variety potatoes bring the essential resistance to the late blight. This Argentine variety can develop the defense naturally. Farmers of the Prince Edward Island, the important province in Canada, cultivate the Russet Burbank potatoes, though wet climate brings the late blight problem. Now potatoes with resistance could be very helpful to avert this late blight problem.

According to Doug Cole, farmers now prefer to have potatoes with this resistance trait that can help to spray less and to avail better quality. No evidence can say that the genetically modified organisms are not safe for consumption, but for some changing foods' genetic code is the ethical issue. To produce the French fries, the McDonald company refuses to avail these potatoes that are genetically engineered. Officials of the Simplot say the potatoes, approved by Canada, can decrease the black spots and the bruising.

For the potato growers in Canada, late blight is a big problem. According to the USABlight, late blight is a very infamous disease in agriculture. This disease is popular for causing the Irish potato famine that happened in the 1840s. The source of this problem is the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans.

This pathogen is primarily visible in tomatoes and potatoes. Fungicides prevent the late blight, but the said potatoes that are genetically engineered obviously decrease the fungicides' use. Approvals of the U.S. and Canada to the Idaho company's second generation of the Innate potatoes are an important fact. Notably, these potatoes contain same nutritional qualities, texture, and taste like the conventional potatoes.

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