JR Simplot has applied to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for approval to export genetically modified potato products into Australia and New Zealand.
Simplot is not asking to export GM potato tubers, because no tubers of any sort can be exported to Australia or New Zealand.
The Soil & Health Association of New Zealand has opposed the application, saying a large number of genetically engineered foods are already on sale in New Zealand, but consumers do not know that because labelling laws mean that almost all GE ingredients do not have to be listed on the packaging.
FSANZ stated: “The only food derived from the potato lines that could be imported includes processed foods such as frozen par-cooked chips/fries, potato crisps, potato starch and alcohol.” It did not say which of these products the company might want to export.
JR Simplot said the potatoes that are genetically modified in the U.S. are three common potato varieties: Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic. The potatoes have been genetically engineered to reduce bruising, to reduce acrylamide formed during cooking and to protect the potatoes from a late blight. These varieties have been introduced as Innate potatoes.
A FSANZ safety assessment on the GE potato application had not identified any public health and safety issues.
Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge said if consumers were in doubt, they should eat fresh potatoes which are all grown in New Zealand and are not genetically engineered. Otherwise they should check labels on packages, and buy only New Zealand made.
Last year New Zealand exported 99,000 tonnes of potato products and imported 14,500 tonnes.