GMO Potato: McDonald's Says No Way

Kimberly RipleyLife

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There's a new GMO potato in town, but you won't find it making French fries at McDonald's.The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co.'s new genetically modified potato. But McDonald's, which is one of the company's oldest business partners--hasn't, and it says it won't.

"McDonald's USA does not source GMO potatoes, nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practices," the company said in a statement regarding the new, approved GMO potato.

Called the "Innate" potato, the USDA gave Boise-based Simplot permission to start the commercial planting of the GMO potato. The company has reportedly altered the potato's DNA so it produces less acrylamide. That is what is suspected to be a human carcinogen. Potatoes naturally produce the chemical when they're cooked at high temperatures.

This new GMO potato is also engineered to resist bruising.

Simplot is a major supplier of French fries, hash browns and other potato products for restaurant chains like McDonald's, but it doesn't sound like they'll cash in big this time from the Golden Arches.This isn't the first time the fast-food industry has resisted GMO potatoes. Just over 10 years ago, Monsanto brought its bug-resistant "New Leaf" line of genetically modified potatoes to market. Buyers, led by the fast-food industry, rejected that GMO potato, too, and it was pulled from production because of a lack of business.

Potato grower Duane Grant said he's been told by buyers in the dehydrated potato industry not to plant the GMO potatoes. He is holding out hope that he can line up willing buyers. That way he can plant the biotech potatoes and reap the higher yields that come with their reduced bruising. He says the key to selling the GMO potato is to convince the food industry to buy it. He says the food industry fears customer backlash, however.

"Brand equity is extremely important to quick-serve restaurants," Grant said. "They will avoid conflict whenever possible in order to protect equity of their brand name."

Would you want your family eating this new GMO potato?

Kudos to McDonald's and any other restaurants or fast food chains that are saying no to it.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.