Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, that they had made a determination of “nonregulated status” for the Innate potato, which is genetically engineered to resist late blight and black spot bruising. This Russet Burbank variety was developed by the J.R. Simplot Company, a major food and agribusiness firm based in Idaho. announcement noted that the potato variety involved is the second generation and includes the first generation’s reduced bruising trait and a greater reduction of acrylamide, a chemical produced at high temperatures (e.g., potato chips and French fries) and which some studies show can cause cancer. This second-generation Innate potato can also be stored at colder temperatures for longer times to reduce food waste, according to Simplot. About 400 acres worth of the company’s first-generation GE potato, called a White Russet, sold out last year in grocery stores across the Midwest and Southeastern U.S., the company stated. Simplot officials called the approval “an important milestone” for historic and agricultural reasons. Late blight was the cause of the Irish potato famine and is a $5-billion problem for the global potato industry, according to Haven Baker, the company’s vice president of plant sciences. Baker said that the potato’s modifications were made by silencing existing genes or adding genes from other types of potatoes. Resistance to late blight comes from a potato variety from Argentina with that natural characteristic, he said. FDA must approve this second-generation Innate potato as being safe for the public to consume, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also needs to give its OK. If those approvals come through, Simplot hopes to start commercial planting of this Innate variety in 2017. Another variety of potato which might be able to resist viruses, require less water, and tolerate more heat and drought is also in the works. APHIS noted that its decision will become effective when the announcement is published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, Sept. 2. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)