Turning Over a NewLeaf
The biotech giant Monsanto confirmed accounts this week that it will shelve its first genetically modified crop and stop selling the six-year-old NewLeaf potato to farmers in the U.S. and Canada. The potato, which contains a gene that produces a toxin to repel the Colorado potato beetle, was unable to capture more than 5 percent of the potato-seed market. Farmers were lukewarm on the product because of high prices, and food companies (the folks buying the spuds) steered clear, with consumers growing increasingly concerned about whether genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Last year, for example, McDonald’s told its french-fry suppliers not to use the NewLeaf potato. A Monsanto spokesperson said the company suspended its potato plans and will focus instead on larger markets for genetically modified seeds: oilseeds, cotton, corn, and wheat.