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Word of Mouth

Poisonous Potatoes

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bamalibrarylady via flickr Creative Commons
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A good potato is hard to find – at least for potato chip makers, who require the exactly the right balance of sugar, starch, and color to produce a perfect chip. In the late 1960’s, chip companies aimed to engineer these tricky variables to their liking using conventional plant cross-breeding. Researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture, Penn State University and the Wise potato chip company embarked upon a scientific quest to create the perfect potato for chips – and ended up with poisonous results. We spoke to Maggie Koerth-Baker, science editor at Boing-Boing and columnist for the New York Times magazine, about the failed quest.

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