Our Generation’s ‘Spud’-nik Moment Has Arrived

Photo: Marisa McClellan/GPTMC

Plant breeding and genetics specialists at Cornell University have developed what just may be two perfect potatoes, the Waneta and the Lamoka. Both varieties were named for two of New York’s Finger Lakes, and they’re resistant to golden nematode and other potato-eating pathogens, store longer after harvest, and are able to resist bruising when planted in stony soil. In the face of a global food crisis, this sounds like good news, right? Well, the Cornell team didn’t develop these potatoes to help feed the hungry, nor to curb the world’s rising food costs. No, according to the website Physorg, these super spuds were designed specifically for making potato chips.

In addition to longer shelf life and durability, Cornell’s Waneta and Lamoka potatoes are ideal for chip-makers because they contain a higher level of starch than the industry standard Snowden potato and absorb less oil when fried. While that’s all well and good for both the makers and eaters of chips, we can’t help but wonder if these scientists’ priorities are a little out of whack? Putting aside the fact that chips are already pretty perfect as-is, is contributing to this country’s growing obesity problem really a better way to spend research dollars than, say, working on developing crops with higher yields and greater durability in order to help feed the world’s millions of starving people?

Cornell releases two new potato varieties for chips [Physorg]

Our Generation’s ‘Spud’-nik Moment Has Arrived