Unknown to the majority of people, Americans have been test subjects over the past decade for a genetically-modified variety of potato, thanks to the agricultural manipulators at Simplot. (See http://rt.com/usa/203567-gmo-potato-mcdonalds-fries/) This mega-manufacturer of “Frankenfoods” based in the Potato State of Idaho has been shipping their experimental vegetables to unsuspecting consumers in several states between 2009 and 2011: Michigan, Indiana, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington and Florida. This company, the main supplier of potatoes to McDonald’s restaurants, has now won over the US Department of Agriculture with its new Innate species of spud.
The purpose behind Simplot’s alteration of the basic potato is to reduce—by an alleged 75%–the tendency of the vegetable to produce acrylamide. This chemical, the result of frying potatoes at temperatures above 248 degrees Fahrenheit, as is normally the case when making French fries, is linked to cases of cancer (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/acrylamide-in-food). Acrylamide is also widely used in industrial applications ranging from manufacture of paper to treatment of drinking water. It is also found to be prevalent in cigarette smoke. Some of the substance always remains in the material in which it is utilized, and repeated exposure is considered to increase the risk of breast and renal cancers.
Another raison d’être behind the invention of this unnatural potato is that it is less prone to bruising. When potatoes are not showing the signs of being shipped, which could cause bruising in non-GMO spuds, they will appear to be fresher and will also have a longer shelf-life in stores. What you may think is a bag of fresh potatoes, then, could actually be much older and you’ll be none the wiser.
Anti-GMO groups are already expending efforts to prevent Simplot from gaining ground with their potatoes. It is expected by the company that the Food and Drug Administration will follow the USDA’s lead and soon grant their governmental blessing to Innate for human consumption. With no concrete evidence, as those against the alteration of food protest, that GMO foods are safe at all, they warn that the product has not been adequately tested yet. Considering that the potatoes have been randomly distributed to the public, with no way of actually monitoring results, they make a very valid point. Without having access to the health records of all consumers in the eight states mentioned earlier, and doing adequate research into the effects of the potatoes on those eating them, how can it be claimed by Simplot that their product is safe? As in most cases of getting anything approved by the government, money will undoubtedly do all the talking.
How, then, could someone avoid the risk (or at least greatly reduce it) of causing acrylamide development in potatoes without the genetic alteration? The methods are simple: either boil or microwave potatoes rather than frying. If French fries or other fried variations, as well as baked potatoes, are a must—as in most fast-food establishments—a simple act of blanching the potatoes is all that is required. In fact, this method also reduces discoloration in vegetables, as those familiar with home cooking will know.
One group—Food and Water Watch—has sent a letter along with a petition to McDonald’s headquarters (http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Nov202013McDonaldsPotatoLetter.pdf) outlining their opposition to Innate. Other groups are also marshalling their followers to try to stop this restaurant chain and others to abandon Simplot’s pomme de terreur and to convince the federal government to ax approval of the new species.
Another tactic: avoid McDonald’s altogether, or at least their potato offerings, which include hash browns. Buy real spuds instead, preferably organic, from reliable sources (such as farmers’ markets). Grow your own potatoes and prepare them in healthy ways. The benefits from such measures will not only be to your own health, but to the detriment of both McDonald’s and Simplot.