US approves GM potatoes less harmful when fried, apples that resist turning brown

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Potatoes that are genetically modified to withstand bruising and produce less of a harmful chemical when fried, along with two kinds of browning-resistant apples were approved for the US market Friday.

"These foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts," said a statement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The ruling applies to six varieties of potatoes, known by the trade name Innate potatoes, genetically engineered by J. R. Simplot Company in Idaho.

The potatoes not only resist bruising, they also produce less acrylamide, a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking or frying, and has been found to be carcinogenic in lab rats.

The FDA also approved two kinds of apples engineered to resist browning from cuts and bruises, known as Arctic apples, made by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Canada.

The FDA said it "has no additional food safety questions at this time concerning food from these plant varieties," after a review of the data that included safety and nutritional information provided by the companies that make the products.

"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," said Dennis Keefe, director of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety.

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