After evaluating a diverse assortment of genetically engineered apples and potatoes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided that these foods are completely safe for human consumption, and are just as nutritious as their conventional counterparts.

The FDA evaluated two types of apples along with six types of potatoes, genetically engineered by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. (British Columbia, Canada) and J. R. Simplot Company (Boise, ID), respectively.

Known as “Arctic Apples”, Okanagan genetically engineered both Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples. The goal was for the apples to resist the browning that occurs when they are cut or bruised.

Potato varieties that underwent genetic modification were Range Russet, Russet Burbank and Atlantic--known collectively as “Innate Potatoes”. The goal here was to curtain the growth of dark bruising by lowering the potatoes’ levels of certain enzymes.

These genetically engineered apples and potatoes are required to meet the same legal and food safety standards as varieties grown traditionally. If characteristics differ from those of their conventional counterparts, the companies might be required to disclose this by way of special labeling as deemed necessary by the FDA.

Genetic engineering companies are encouraged--not required--to go through a voluntary consultation process in order to comply with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations prior to making these items available for distribution and sale to the public. Both Okanagan and Simplot have submitted their safety and nutritional assessments to the FDA as part of the consultation process.