Health Canada conducted a comprehensive safety assessment and approved the use of Innate second generation potatoes for food. In addition, CFIA determined these potatoes are “as safe and nutritious as traditional potatoes” for use as livestock feed, and that the potatoes do not present increased risk to the environment when compared to currently cultivated potato varieties in Canada.
The second generation of Innate potatoes contains four beneficial traits of interest to potato growers, processors and consumers:
- Protection against the late blight pathogen.
- Reduced bruising and black spot.
- Reduced asparagine, which contributes to reduced acrylamide in cooked potatoes.
- Lower reducing sugars, which further contributes to reduced acrylamide while enhancing cold storage capability.
“This is a big technology advancement for the Canadian potato industry,” said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada. “As long as proper stewardship guidelines are followed, Innate biotechnology provides growers a promising option to significantly reduce waste, chemicals and pesticides.”
A promising potato
“We’re excited to offer the latest generation of Innate potatoes to the Canadian marketplace,” said Susan Collinge, Ph.D., vice-president of Simplot Plant Sciences, a division of the J.R. Simplot Company. “Innate second generation potatoes offer important benefits while staying within the potato genome to create a quality crop.”
Innate’s late blight protection trait can convey up to a 50 per cent reduction in annual fungicide applications typically used to control late blight disease. This disease was a contributing cause of the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-19th century and remains a major constraint for production and storage.
Research also shows Innate second generation potatoes help reduce waste associated with bruise, blight and storage losses by reducing waste at multiple stages of the value chain, including in-field, during storage and processing and in food service. That research suggests these traits will translate to less land, water, and pesticide applications to produce these potatoes.
Lower asparagine and reducing sugars mean that accumulation levels of acrylamide can be reduced by up to 90 per cent more when these potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. In addition, lower reducing sugars enable cold storage at 3.3 C for more than six months without significant degradation in quality.
According to academic estimates, if all fresh potatoes in Canada had Innate Generation 2 traits, potato waste (in-field, during storage, packing, retail and food service for fresh potatoes) could be reduced by 93 million kilograms. In addition, carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 14 million kilograms, water usage reduced by 13 billion litres, and a total of 154,000 fewer pesticide hectare-applications would be needed.