The latest entries into the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) category are an apple that resists browning when sliced or bruised, and a potato that allegedly produces less of a suspected carcinogen when deep-fried, according to news articles in the New York Times.

The apple is only a modest "improvement". Its ability to resist browning primarily benefits grower, shippers, and sellers by reducing their losses of browned fruit. Secondarily it could open the way to pre-packaged sliced apples in the store, but is that really going to be a big market?

But the potato may be a whole different story, and it may well test the public's understanding of its possible benefits versus the fear some people have of all GMOs. The genetically modified potato contains less of the amino acid, asparagine, according to Simplot, the potato's developer. When heated to very high temperatures such as deep frying, asparagine reacts with sugar to produce acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen. How much asparagine there is in a potato Simplot didn't say, but I suspect it's way less than in most meats. This sounds like making a big deal out of not very much, in an effort to gain widespread acceptance.

An understanding of the word "suspected" is key here. According to the National Cancer Institute, toxicology studies indicate that acrylamide may be a risk for certain cancers in animals, but so far there is no direct link between acrylamide and cancer in humans. There's certainly not enough evidence to ban potato chips and french fries just yet.

How will the market react to the new GMO potato? There have been news reports that McDonalds's has already said it has no current plans to use the new potato. And a genetically modified potato has been tried before; Monsanto pulled its insect-resistant potato from the market after buyers rejected it.

Oh, and by the way, the genetically modified potato does benefit growers, shippers, and retailers, too. Like the apple it resists bruising, so it would reduce annual potato waste by 400 million pounds per year, according to Simplot. I just knew there'd be something in it for Simplot.

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