FDA has completed its food and feed safety assessment and approved the J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation Innate potato—a potato genetically engineered to resist the blight pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine.

According to FDA, the agency concluded the Russet Burbank Generation 2 potatoes are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters, from any other potato or potato-derived food currently on the market.

Simplot says its second generation of Innate potatoes contain four benefits of relevance to potato growers, processors and consumers: reduced bruising and black spots; reduced asparagine; resistance to late blight pathogens; and enhanced cold storage capability. These benefits were achieved by adapting genes from wild and cultivated potatoes.

USDA approved the potato in August, though Simplot will still need to register and receive clearance from the EPA before introducing them for sale in the US.

Simplot says it estimates the late blight resistance trait could result in a 25-45 percent reduction in fungicide applications annually to control late blight.

“The Innate Gen. 2 potato is a major advancement in the potato industry,” says Duane Grant, potato farmer and owner of Grant 4D Farms in Rupert, Idaho. “Late blight disease can and does wreak havoc on organic and conventional potato crops and now we have an effective solution that should reduce fungicide use and reduce the millions of pounds of wasted potatoes each year.”

Late blight, the disease responsible for the historic Irish potato famine, is caused by a fungus-like pathogen and still has the potential to devastate world potato crops. Innate Gen. 2 potatoes contain a gene from a South American wild potato species that provides natural resistance to certain strains of the pathogen.

“We’re excited to continue momentum on our Innate technology platform,” says Haven Baker, vice president and general manager of Simplot Plant Sciences. “In our first two generations we have addressed the issues of plant disease, health and quality by harnessing the strongest traits within the potato family and we’re now set to address global potato challenges.”