Potato, Potahto? McDonald’s to Decide on Genetically Modified Fries

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McDonald’s Corp (NYSE:MCD) has been mixing up its menu recently in an attempt to combat falling sales and appeal to the ever-changing palates and wallets of its customers. But the fast food giant has thus far failed to touch one of its most world famous items: its french fries. However, that could all change soon.

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When you pop a perfectly crispy McDonald’s fry into your mouth, you likely don’t think about the potato from which that fry was born. But now a national consumer group is asking you to do so, as the company is poised to hear a federal decision from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on whether or not genetically engineered potatoes will be approved.

National consumer and environment group Food & Water Watch is fighting for the recall of genetically engineered potatoes, arguing that certain food biotechnology poses a health risk to consumers. And it is now asking McDonald’s to take a stand, urging it to “publicly refuse to source the ‘Innate’-brand genetically engineered potato now up for regulatory approval by U.S. Department of Agriculture. The GE potato developer, J.R. Simplot, currently provides McDonald’s with most of the potatoes it uses in its french fries.”

The new headlines surrounding McDonald’s potentially genetically engineered french fries could prove destructive to the company. In an attempt to mitigate drama, McDonald’s USA told the Chicago Tribune: “Currently, our potato supply does not include genetically engineered potatoes …McDonald’s USA reviews, on a case-by-case basis, the status of regulatory approvals, customer acceptance, prospective consumer benefits, cost and potential safety and environmental impacts of specific food items as they become available to the market.”

McDonald's

The national consumer group is on the fast food giant’s case because McDonald’s is currently the largest purchaser of potatoes in the United States, and its condemnation of genetically engineered potatoes would mark a major victory for Food & Water Watch. The group views genetically engineered food as “untested, unlabeled and potentially unsafe” and thus has urged McDonald’s to think of the children it serves when it makes its decision about the potatoes.

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McDonald’s maintains, “Our goal is quality food above all else.” Because that is really specific.

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