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Gene-Modified Apples, Potatoes Safe to Eat, FDA Says

Regulators also said they are as nutritious as conventional produce

FRIDAY, March 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A number of new varieties of genetically modified apples and potatoes are safe to eat, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The agency said it evaluated two varieties of genetically modified apples from Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. in Canada and six varieties of genetically modified potatoes from J.R. Simplot Co. in Idaho.

Regulators concluded the engineered produce is as safe and nutritious as the natural versions.

"The consultation process includes a review of information provided by a company about the nature of the molecular changes and the nutritional composition of the food compared to traditionally bred varieties," Dennis Keefe, director of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety, said Friday in an agency news release.

"This case-by-case safety evaluation ensures that food safety issues are resolved prior to commercial distribution," he added.

The Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties of apples -- collectively known by the trade name "Arctic Apples" -- were engineered to have lower levels of enzymes that cause browning from cuts and bruises, the FDA said.

The Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank and Atlantic potatoes -- collectively known by the trade name "Innate Potatoes" -- were engineered to have lower levels of enzymes that cause black spot bruises.

The potatoes were also engineered to produce less acrylamide, a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking such as frying. Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in rodents, according to the news release.

The drop in acrylamide production was achieved by lowering levels of an amino acid called asparagine and by lowering levels of reducing-sugars.

The FDA review is based on safety and nutritional assessments provided by the companies as part of a voluntary consultation process.

Genetically modified produce must meet the same safety standards as traditional produce, the FDA said.

More information

The World Health Organization has more about genetically modified foods.

SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, March 20, 2015
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