US approves 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes

Farmer holding harvested potatoes in his hands.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials say that 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.

The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company 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.

The three varieties are the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic. They’ve previously been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.