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New strain of high-starch potatoes.

Consumers may soon munch on fluffier fries and crispier chips, thanks to genetically engineered spuds developed by biologist David Stark and his co-workers at Monsanto Co. in St. Louis.

The altered tubers contain more starch and less water than their normal counterparts, and thus absorb approximately 20 percent less oil when fried. These changes translate into fewer calories and better texture, Stark says.

The researchers introduced a gene that codes for starch production - originally isolated from a common bacterium into the familiar Idaho potato. While the new plants appear normal, they produce an average of 20 percent more starch than their unaltered cousins.

No formal taste tests have been conducted, but the scientists themselves have fried up a few preliminary chips. "They were very good," says Stark.

The researchers continue rigorous testing to identify the ideal levels of starch, since too much of it makes a potato fragile and difficult to ship.

Stark estimates that the new spuds may reach consumers by the late 1990s.
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Title Annotation:genetically engineered potatoes will have fewer calories and better texture
Author:Hoppe, Kathryn
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 5, 1992
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