Questions and answers: Innate™ potato
How was the Innate™ potato assessed?
Innate™ potato required three separate assessments. Health Canada has assessed the safety and nutrition of Innate potato for use as food, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) assessed its safety and nutrition for use as a livestock feed, as well as whether it is suitable to be released into the environment.
How does the Innate™ potato have reduced black spot bruising and acrylamide?
Innate™ Potato is genetically modified to be less susceptible to black spot from bruising and have lower levels of asparagine, which results in formation of less acrylamide when the potatoes are baked or fried. Acrylamide is a by-product of the cooking process that can be toxic at high levels.
What was considered in the CFIA livestock feed assessment of the Innate™ potato?
The livestock feed safety assessment considered the potential impact of Innate™ potato on:
- animal health and human safety as it relates to the potential transfer of residues into foods of animal origin, and worker/bystander exposure to the feed; and
- livestock nutrition.
What was considered in the CFIA environmental assessment of the Innate™ potato?
The environmental safety assessment examined five broad categories of possible impacts:
- the potential for the plant to become a weed or invade natural habitats;
- the potential, and consequences of, gene flow to related plants;
- the potential for the plant to become a plant pest;
- the potential impact of the plant or its gene products on non-target species; and
- the potential impact on biodiversity.
Were effects on other potato growers considered?
The Government of Canada will only authorize a product for use as food, for use as livestock feed, and for release into the environment, if, after a thorough scientific assessment, it is determined to be as safe as its conventional counterparts. In order to protect the scientific integrity of the assessment process, socio-economic factors, such as potential market reaction, are not considered in the decision-making process with respect to novel products.
In Canada, once a novel product, such as Innate™ potato, has been approved for environmental release and for use as food and livestock feed, it is considered to be equivalent to its conventional counterparts. Producers are free to choose amongst products deemed to be safe and to implement the production methods and marketing strategies of their choice.
Does the Government of Canada endorse the Innate™ potato?
The Government of Canada neither advocates for, nor opposes, specific products. Regulatory decisions are evidence-based and impartial.
Why is this product needed when there are other ways to stop a potato from browning?
The potential market demand for any new product is a matter of business judgement. In this case, it is up to J.R. Simplot Company to determine whether there is sufficient customer demand to merit commercializing Innate™ potato.
Will foods containing Innate™ potatoes be labelled?
Since Innate™ potatoes have been determined to be as safe as conventional potatoes, Health Canada does not require special labelling. In Canada, voluntary labelling is permitted to provide consumers with information that is not related to the safety of the product. The national standard, "Voluntary Labelling and Advertising of Foods that Are and Are Not Products of Genetic Engineering", states that products can be voluntarily labelled as GE or non-GE, provided conditions are met and the claim is understandable, informative, accurate, and not misleading.
The decision of whether or not to proceed with voluntary labelling is solely that of J.R. Simplot Company.
What data were used for the assessments?
As part of the assessment process, J.R. Simplot Company provided extensive data for review by regulators at the CFIA and Health Canada. The submitted data included a detailed description of how Innate™ potato was developed and how the reduced bruising and acrylamide traits function. Regulators also accessed relevant peer-reviewed studies from the published literature.
Canada's regulatory framework requires the product developer to generate the data necessary to fulfill the requirements of the safety and nutrition assessments. This approach to data generation is consistent with that of regulatory bodies around the world, and is the standard practice to ensure that the safety and nutrition of the product can be evaluated.
A decision document that outlines the safety assessment and the regulatory decision will be posted on the CFIA website.
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