Researchers engineer heat tolerance in potato crops

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute and the University of St. Andrews have developed a technique to ‘engineer’ heat tolerance in potato crops, potentially providing potato breeders with a valuable tool in their quest to create varieties suited to the requirements of growers, industry and retailers. The potato crop is particularly vulnerable to increased temperature, which is considered to be the most important uncontrollable factor affecting growth and yield, according to the researchers. By comparing many different types of potato, scientists at the Institute have found a version of a gene involved in the heat stress response that is more active in potato types that can tolerant high temperature. The team went on to show that the switch that turns the protective gene on  is different in the heat tolerant types. More

Taiwan: Gov’t to control future GMO potato imports

Agriculture authorities say they’re prepared to implement controls to prevent the possible import of U.S. genetically modified (GMO) potatoes from affecting domestic growers. The U.S. recently applied with the Health and Welfare Ministry to import GMO potatoes, with the approval process expected to be completed next year at the earliest. However, concerns are being raised about the potential health impacts of GMO food products and the adverse effects of these imports on domestic potato farmers. The Council of Agriculture said Monday it would monitor future imports and call for proper labeling of foreign GMO potatoes. If approved for import, the GMO potatoes would be used in potato chips, French fries and other processed food products. The government currently allows five types of GMO products to be imported, namely soybeans, corn, cotton, rapeseed and sugar beets. More

Proeven GMO-aardappelen blijven maar toenemen

Of het nu in de Verenigde Staten, Spanje of het Verenigd Koninkrijk is: de proeven met genetisch gemodificeerde aardappelen blijven maar toenemen. Onlangs heeft De Minister van Landbouw van het Verenigd Koninkrijk, George Eastice (DEFRA), een vierjarig experiment van genetisch gemodificeerde aardappelen in The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich goedgekeurd. De veldproef is een deel van het Potato Partnership Project van TSL om een Maris Piper aardappel te ontwikkelen. Deze aardappel is resistent tegen plagen, beschadigt minder snel en produceert minder acrylamide bij hoge temperaturen. Ook buiten Europa staan de experimenten met genetisch gemodificeerde aardappelen niet stil, al gaat het ook wel eens anders dan verwacht. Zo zullen er dit jaar geen GGO-aardappelen geteeld worden op Prince Edward Island in Canada, laat Simplot Plant Sciences weten, het bedrijf dat de Innate aardappelen ontwikkelde. Meer

US: Genetically engineered potatoes approved for Maine

Impact of late blight disease on rows of conventional potatoes (left) and Innate™ Gen 2 potatoes (right) in Michigan as seen in this Nov 2015 photo.With little fanfare, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control unanimously approved earlier this month the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company. The move means that the J.R. Simplot Co.’s Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes could be planted in Maine fields at any time. These potatoes were created by adding genes from a wild potato plant and are designed to be resistant to late blight. But genetically modified crops have been controversial in the past. Critics of the process say that won’t be any different for the Simplot potatoes, the second generation to be sold under the brand name Innate, although company officials say otherwise. More

Simplot postpones commercial introduction of Innate GMO potatoes in Canada

Simplot postpones commercial introduction of Innate GMO potatoes in CanadaSimplot Plant Sciences will not commercially launch its Innate GMO potatoes in Canada this year, despite regulatory approval and interest among potato farmers to grow these new potatoes, according to a report by CBC News. Doug Cole, director of marketing and communications, said Simplot is holding off allowing commercial growth of Innate potatoes in Canada until there’s a proven market for them. According to Cole, “There is strong interest from the grower community and retailers are also interested.” But it’s a very involved purchase decision.” He said there are about five acres of test plots on Prince Edward Island this year and the mentioned that Simplot Plant Sciences has also test plots in Ontario and Manitoba. More

UK: Sainsbury Laboratory received approval for trial of GMO potatoes

In the United Kingdom, farming minister George Eustice (DEFRA) has approved a four-year trial of genetically modified (GM) potatoes at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich between 2017 and 2021. The trial site, which is at the John Innes Centre, must meet various restrictions, including maintaining a width of 20 metres around the GM plants, and not exceed 1,000 sq m in size. The field trials are part of TSL’s Potato Partnership Project to develop a Maris Piper potato that is blight and nematode resistant, bruises less and produces less acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures. More

US: Genetically engineered potatoes approved for Maine

With little fanfare, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control unanimously approved on Friday morning the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company. The move means that the J.R. Simplot Co.’s Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes could be planted in Maine fields at any time. These potatoes were created by adding genes from a wild potato plant and are designed to be resistant to late blight, the disease that caused the mid-19th century Irish Potato Famine and which remains a problem today. More

US approves 3 more types of Simplot GMO potatoes for sale this year

Genetically modified potatoes that won’t bruise are a step closer to public consumption as early as this fall, now that Simplot Co. has received final government approval to grow and sell them.The federal government has given the final OK to three more types of potatoes genetically engineered by Boise’s J.R. Simplot Co. to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine. They are safe for the environment and safe to eat, officials announced. The approvals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration last month mean Simplot is free to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall. The approvals apply to Simplot’s second generation of its Innate line of potatoes. The first generation already is sold in stores under the White Russet label. The company said the latest varities will have less bruising and fewer black spots, enhanced cold-storage capacity and a lower amount of a potentially carcinogenic chemical that is created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. More

US approves 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes

US approves 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes Three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat, federal officials announced. The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. permission to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall. The company said the potatoes contain only potato genes and that the resistance to late blight, the disease that caused the Irish potato famine, comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense. There is no evidence that genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs, are unsafe to eat, but changing the genetic code of foods presents an ethical issue for some. McDonald’s declines to use Simplot’s genetically engineered potatoes for its French fries. More

GVO-Kartoffeln wecken im ersten Jahr Hoffnung

Guter Einstand: In den letztjährigen Anbauversuchen von Agroscope zeigte die GVO-Linie H43-4k mit zwei Wildkartoffelgenen vollständige Krautfäuleresistenz (Bonitierung 1 bis 9). (Bild Susanne Brunner/Agroscope)Die gentechfreie Produktion gehört zu den Eckpfeilern von Schweizer Lebensmitteln. Die Forschung ist aber zugelassen und Agroscope ist hier unter anderem mit Kartoffeln aktiv. 2016 liefen am Standort Reckenholz erstmals im grösseren Rahmen Freilandversuche mit sogenannt cisgenen Kartoffeln, wie der zuständige Michael Winzeler anlässlich der VSKP-Mitgliederversammlung erläuterte. 
Das cisgene Kartoffel-Pflanzgut für die Versuche stammt von der holländischen Agraruniversität Wageningen. Cisgen ist es, weil nicht artfremde Gene sondern solche aus Wildkartoffeln ins Erbgut eingeschleust wurden. Beim stark umstrittenen BT-Mais und der ebenso heftig kritisierten Roundup-resistenten Soja hingegen hat man mit transgenen Methoden Bakteriengene in die Pflanze übertragen. 
Der Vorteil der Gentechnologie ist gemäss Winzeler der Zeitgewinn. Mehr

Europe, Canada: Could GM potatoes be headed to Europe via CETA?

Could genetically modified potatoes soon be exported to Europe courtesy of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)? The Government of Canada has stated, „CETA will not only open new markets [for Canada in Europe] for raw ingredients, it will open up new markets for the food processing and beverage industry.“ For example, Global Affairs Canada boasts that under CETA EU tariffs would be eliminated on potatoes and frozen potato products, such as french fries. Now, the Canadian Press reports, „Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have approved a genetically engineered potato for sale, said a U.S.-based company on [March 21] in announcing that its non-browning spuds could be in Canadian supermarkets by Thanksgiving. The article highlights, „The potatoes could be grown in Canada this season and be in stores by the fall.“ More. Original article

Researchers: ‘Organic farming should embrace blight–resistant genetically engineered potato’

According to researchers Godelieve Gheysen and René Custers in Belgium, the EU regulation on organic farming does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “Why obstruct a cisgenic potato crop that can hardly be distinguished from a potato crop that is the result of conventional breeding?,” the scientists ask in a recently published research paper. “Among the reasons why organic agriculture does not allow the use of GMOs it is mentioned that genetic engineering is unpredictable, it causes genome disruption and it is unnatural. However, our knowledge of plant genome evolution and breeding has increased dramatically,” they say. According to Gheysen and Custers, we now know that breeding is more unpredictable and causes more genome disruption than genetic engineering. Recent field trials have shown the efficacy of cisgenic late blight–resistant potatoes carrying multiple resistance genes. Large-scale growing of such durably resistant potatoes would not only be environmentally beneficial by strongly reducing the need for fungicide sprays in conventional potato cultivation – it would also reduce the disease pressure in organic potato cultivation. Genetic Literacy Project report. Research paper as published in the Journal Sustainability

US: First field trials of Calyxt GMO potato variety completed

Calyxt, Inc., a Minnesota-based company, announced that it has completed the first field trials of its cold-storable potato in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The USDA has recently advised the potato’s developer, Calyxt, that the cultivar is not a “regulated article” under federal law since it doesn’t contain genes from plant pests. Because most commercial biotech crops incorporate genes from plant pests, these potatoes were subject to environmental analysis and a risk assessment from USDA before they were deregulated. In the case of Calyxt’s “PPO_KO” potato, the variety was created by “knocking out” an unwanted gene that causes bruising, without leaving plant pest genes in the crop. The Center for Food Safety, a prominent critic of genetically engineered crops, is skeptical of the benefits of the PPO_KO potato. More

US: New GMO potatoes approved, controversy continues

USDA approved commercial planting of two types of GMO potatoes which resist late blight resistance. The approval covers J.R. Simplot Co.’s Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of the company’s second generation of Innate potatoes. The new version will also reduce bruising and black spots, enhance storage capacity, and reduce the amount of a potential carcinogen created when cooked at high temperatures. J.R Simplot submitted a request on March 3, 2016, for extension of a determination of nonregulated status for the two potato varieties and USDA held a 30-day public review and comment period from September 23, 2016 to October 24, 2016. It determined that the two potatoes were similar to the Simplot Innate W8 Russet Burbank potato and therefore, are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk. This approval comes in conjunction with the release of a study from The New York Times, finding that genetic modification in the U.S. and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides. The Times analyzed United Nations data to reveal that, when measured against Western Europe, GMO crops in North America gained no discernible advantage in yields. More

Will new GMO potatoes really require fewer pesticides?

Consumers seeking to satisfy their salty snack cravings sans genetically modified ingredients may soon have to get savvier about scouting out chips and other products made without the use of GMO potatoes. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture formally approved two new types of genetically engineered potatoes, both of which were developed by Simplot, the Idaho-based spud giant. (A third GMO variety was previously approved by the department.) Now, pending what amounts to a fairly cursory review by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, the company expects all three GMO strains to be available to farmers for planting next spring. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that over the past two decades, the agriculture industry in the United States has wholeheartedly embraced GMO crops (other than potatoes) with gusto. Field tests of an early GMO potato variety sparked one of the first protests against the technology back in the late 1980s, and the industry remained largely GMO-free. It was just last year that the potato industry began planting a GMO variety on a commercial scale. More

US: Calyxt’s bruise-resistant, non-browning GMO potato variety cleared for sale

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-48-39-pmThe USDA has advised the potato’s developer, Calyxt, the cultivar is not a “regulated article” under federal law because it doesn’t contain genes from plant pests. Because most commercial biotech crops incorporate genes from plant pests, they were subject to environmental analysis and a risk assessment from USDA before they were deregulated. In the case of Calyxt’s “PPO_KO” potato, the variety was created through the “knockout” of an unwanted gene that causes bruising without leaving plant pest genes in the crop. The Center for Food Safety, a prominent critic of genetically engineered crops, is skeptical of the PPO_KO potato’s benefits. More

USDA clears Calyxt potato modified to withstand bruising

USDA clears Calyxt potato modified to withstand bruisingA new potato variety that’s genetically modified to withstand bruising has been cleared for commercialization without undergoing USDA’s deregulatory process for biotech crops. The agency has advised the potato’s developer, Calyxt, the cultivar is not a “regulated article” under federal law because it doesn’t contain genes from plant pests. Because most commercial biotech crops incorporate genes from plant pests, they were subject to environmental analysis and a risk assessment from USDA before they were deregulated. More

Australia, New Zealand: Food standards watchdog calls for opinions on Simplot’s GM potato

The food regulator Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (Fsanz) has begun public consultation as it reviews whether to allow a potato that has been genetically modified to reduce bruising. The Innate potato, produced by Simplot, has also been engineered to produce less of the chemical acrylamide, which has been linked to cancer in laboratory animals, when it is cooked. Simplot is one of the largest privately held food and agribusiness companies in America. Steve McCutcheon, chief executive of Fsanz, said the potato had been modified by inserting genetic sequences from the potato in question and other wild potato varieties. Authorities in America and Canada have already given the green light to sell the modified russet burbank potatoes, which “are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters, from any other potato or potato-derived food or feed currently on the market,” Simplot said. More

Genetic improvement provides opportunities for potatoes

The potato is an important crop for Latin America and especially for South America, where it originated. Genetically improving potatoes can be a way to produce varieties that are resistant to pests and climate change, said Arnulfo Gutierrez, an expert on potatoes and a Panamanian official. There are no modified potato varieties in the region yet, said the specialist who chaired the organising committee of the XXVII Congress of the Latin American Potato Association (ALAP), which was held this week in Panama City. Gutierrez said genetically modified potatoes were a major advance from the scientific point of view, but stressed that societies would only be able to profit from these developments after having accepted these products and the technology which produces them. “If the society does not accept this product we’ll definitely have to find another way of improving them,” he said. More

Study reveals true cost of developing GMO potatoes

A recent study has revealed that the cost of developing GM potato varieties is in fact not that much more than for conventionally-bred varieties. The study published in the International Journal of Biotechnology demystifies the belief that releasing a GM crop costs tens, if not hundreds, of millions of U.S. dollars. The study assessed the cost and time of developing a GM late blight resistant (LBr) potato variety for deregulation and release as a public good, in a specific developing country.

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Olympic athletes enjoy McDonald’s almost as much as medals

So it turns out Olympic athletes love Big Macs almost as much as they love medals. There’s a McDonald’s handing out free food to athletes at the Olympic Village in Rio, and it’s become one of the most popular stops in all of Brazil. The Washington Post paid a visit to this neon oasis, and the findings were interesting, to say the least. First off, the free food. There’s a relatively limited menu, mostly just burgers and fries, but that hasn’t stopped hordes of athletes and coaches from descending on the restaurant, so much so that McDonald’s had to place a limit of 20 (!) items per person. “The Chinese basketball team, they come all day, every day,” one employee said. “The Chinese eat Big Macs at 9 a.m. It’s crazy.” More

US: Interview with John Keeling, National Potato Council

This week’s guest on Open Mic is John Keeling, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Potato Council. In many ways, the nation’s potato growers opposed the biotech disclosure bill recently signed into law by President Obama. John Keeling voices grower concern over the country’s shift in labeling philosophy and ideas on future litigation and legislation on food labels. In this week’s interview you’ll hear what this group of specialty crop growers want from a new farm bill and their thoughts of separating nutrition and farm policy. With a fifth of domestic production shipped to global markets, Keeling shares concern over negative comments on global trade from the campaign trail and why the NPC supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership. More

US: Yes or no GMO? Local food companies talk biotech

White RussetTreasure Valley companies continue to focus on food production and point out the benefits of biotechnology in a national polarized and political environment surrounding genetically modified, or GMO, foods. “Consumers have said they want healthier products with fewer pesticides, and they want a better overall quality so they can save money and have assurance they can serve a healthier product to their family,” said Doug Cole, marketing and communications director for J.R. Simplot’s biotechnology division, Simplot Plant Sciences. “That’s what we’re doing with White Russet potatoes, and that’s what you are seeing other biotech companies working on.” Congress passed a bill July 14 that will require specific labeling on food packages indicating whether the food contains genetically engineered ingredients. More

Canada: Foes of GMOs call for stricter store labelling

With three new genetically engineered foods given the green light to be sold in grocery stores in Canada, opponents of the technology are increasing their demands the products be clearly labelled. “Now is the perfect time to do this so Canadians know exactly what they are eating,” said Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, a national coalition of 17 groups , based in Ottawa, that have raised concerns about genetically engineered foods. Health Canada has given its approval for the grocery-store sale of a genetically engineered potato, apple and salmon. The problem, Sharratt said, is Canadian consumers have no way of knowing whether they are buying these products because there are no labelling requirements. More