Genetically-modified "super potato" could save lives

Tired of potatoes that only leave you 62.5% full? Now a new genetically-modified potato has 1.6 times the protein of normal potatoes and way more amino acids. The next generation of transgenic tubers has arrived.

Insufficient proteins in the diet can negatively affect healthy growth and development, and it can even contribute to increased risk of sickness and death. As such, not getting enough protein is a major issue in the developing world. Genetically modified crops have long been seen as a part of the solution to this problem, as they can pack in many more proteins and nutrients into the same basic food, but actually commercializing GM foods on a large scale hasn't yet happened.

Still, the newly developed super-potato should have a major role to play in that long-term solution. As its developers explain, the potato is one of the world's most important foods:

Although cereals and starchy food crops contribute to more than 80% of the calories in a diet, noncereal crops are becoming more popular throughout the world with the continuing change in food habits. The demand for noncereal crops will continue to increase as a consequence of the expanding human population. Potato is the most important noncereal food crop and ranks fourth in terms of total global food production. It is also used as animal feed and in industrial products. Today, potatoes are grown in nearly 125 countries and more than a billion people worldwide consume them on a daily basis.

The potatoes are modified by enhancing the expression of the seed protein Amaranth Albumin 1, which boosts the overall protein and amino acid contents of the crop. The researchers have already managed to modify seven different genetic strains of potatoes, each perfect for growing in a different region of the world.

[Proceedings of the National Academy of Science]

Image via Alberta Home Gardening (not an actual super potato)