The world production of potatoes is about 325 million metric tons, two thirds of which is consumed by humans. Potatoes harvested during the growing season are cold-stored to ensure a continuous supply line throughout the the year. However during the cold-storage of potatoes, starch is converted into reducing sugars through a process known as Cold-Induced Sweetening. Once these cold-stored potatoes are cooked at temperatures above 250° F the free amino acids and reducing sugars interact to form acrylamide. Foods such as French fries and potato chips can have the highest levels of acrylamide among potato derived products.

The National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer consider acrylamide to be a ‘probable human carcinogen’ based on studies in laboratory animals.

BenClasen“When we were doing our research on the healthier potato trait, we realized that by removing just one gene from the potato genome, we could increase the usable yield by approximately 15% AND provide a health benefit. As a plant scientist, it is very exciting to know we have the tools to create new varieties that benefit both farmers and consumers.”

-Ben Clasen – Head of Plant Transformation Platform

At Calyxt, we have inactivated the enzyme responsible for the degradation of sugars in the tuber, thus reducing both the sweetening of cold-stored potatoes and the creation of acrylamide during frying.