McDonald's is turning down GMO potatoes produced by longtime supplier J.R. Simplot Co. even though the genetically modified spuds have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
According to the Idaho Statesman
, the Innate genetically modified potato line earned federal approval for market on Nov. 7. The potatoes have fewer sugars than normal potatoes and less asparagine, which has the potential to become a carcinogen – acrylamide – when fried.
Despite the positives, McDonald's has said it doesn't plan to purchase the new potato from its supplier, according to the agricultural news outlet the Capital Press
"McDonald's USA does not source GMO potatoes nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practice," a McDonald's spokesman's told the Capital Press.
Simplot spokesman Doug Cole told the Capital Presshe believed that customers would welcome potatoes with less sugars and carcinogen-causing asparagine. He said that 400 test acres of the GMO potatoes were harvested this fall but the supplier hopes to increase production after next year.
Tom Gillpatrick, executive director of the Food Industry Leadership Center at Portland State University, told the Capital Press, though, that Innate potatoes will still have to overcome the image of GMO-grown products.
"This whole GMO thing is so polarizing," Gillpatrick said to the Capital Press. "It really doesn't seem to matter what the facts are."
C.A. Pinkham of Jezebel wrote
that McDonald's position was actually a head scratcher considering most of its customers are not the label-scrutinizing types while the money-saving potential of using the potatoes were noticeable.
"It's pretty bold for McDonald's to proudly proclaim they don't use genetically-modified foods when you can only consider what they do produce 'food' by an extremely generous definition – especially true when you consider that if McDonald's meat is organic,** then I am the Queen of England," wrote Pinkman. "Make no mistake: this is entirely about the fear of a public backlash for accepting a genetically modified potato."
"McDonald's is also likely drastically overrating how much the inclusion of GMO products would hurt their profits or turn off their core customer base. They're never going to pull in the artisanal hipster or granola crowds regardless of their GMO food policies, and who else would even care about their use of GMO's," Pinkman continued.
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