FDA concludes biotechnology review for GM apples and potatoes.

  • FDA encourages the developers of genetically modified (GM) food crops to submit safety information to the Agency as part of a voluntary consultation process prior to commercial distribution.
  • FDA recently completed its favorable evaluation of several varieties of apples and potatoes that have been genetically engineered to resist bruising and browning.  Specifically, the GM apples are designed to resist browning associated with cuts and bruises by reducing the levels of enzymes that cause discoloration.  The GM potatoes are designed to reduce the formation of black spot bruises, also by virtue of enzyme level reduction, and to produce less acrylamide, a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking (e.g., frying).
  • Companies that participate in FDA’s voluntary biotechnology consultation process submit safety and nutritional information about their GM crops.  Although the Agency’s response does not constitute an “approval,” it is the closest approximation of FDA’s blessing that the developer of a GM food can obtain at this point in time.  As federal and state bills related to GM regulation and labeling continue to percolate, it remains to be seen what the future will hold for FDA’s role in premarket review of GM crops.