J.R. Simplot Company

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved commercial planting of two types of potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine.

The approval announced Friday covers Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co.'s Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of the company's second generation of Innate potatoes.

The company says the potatoes will also have reduced bruising and black spots, enhanced storage capacity and a reduced amount of a chemical created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures that's a potential carcinogen.

JUMP

It has been called a creative center and a community gathering place. Now primary construction is complete and JUMP is about to open its doors to the Boise community.

JUMP, or Jack’s Urban Meeting Place, was built by the J. R. Simplot Foundation in honor of Jack Simplot. He died in 2008, and since then the foundation and the Simplot family have been working to get JUMP built near the connector in downtown Boise.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled a lawsuit against the J.R. Simplot Company for alleged Clean Air Act violations. The Idaho-based agriculture giant will pay $899,000 in a civil penalty.

The company owns five sulphuric acid plants that make fertilizer in Idaho, California and Wyoming. Sulphur dioxide is a gas scientists have connected to climate change as well as respiratory issues in humans.

Courtesy: J.R. Simplot Company

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a potato genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine and that still damages crops.

Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. says that the Russet Burbank can also be stored at colder temperatures longer to reduce food waste.

The potato is the second generation of Simplot's Innate potatoes and also includes the first generation's reduced bruising and a greater reduction in a chemical produced at high temperatures that some studies have shown can cause cancer.

Barry Crabtree / Flickr Creative Commons

During a talk he gave in Oxford, England in 2013, environmentalist and writer Mark Lynas apologized to the very audience he used to demonize: companies and scientists that work with genetically modified foods.

"As an environmentalist and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a health and nutritious diet of their choosing," Lynas told the crowd, "I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path and I now regret it completely."

Courtesy: J.R. Simplot Company

Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company is seeking federal approval to market a second genetically engineered potato.

Simplot won approval for its first modified potato late last year. The “Innate” potato, as it’s branded, is due to be the first genetically engineered spud on the market.

Simplot dubbed the genetically engineered potatoes “Innate” because the inserted genes come from other potatoes.

On the face of it, the new potato varieties called "Innate" seem attractive. If you peel the brown skin off their white flesh, you won't find many unsightly black spots. And when you fry them, you'll probably get a much smaller dose of a potentially harmful chemical.

But here's the catch: Some of the biggest potato buyers in the country, such as Frito-Lay and McDonald's, seem afraid to touch these potatoes. Others don't even want to talk about them because they are genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Simplot Joins Texas Company To Open Idaho Beef Processing Plant

Jan 6, 2015
UGA College of Ag / Flickr Creative Commons

The J.R. Simplot Company is partnering with a Texas-based company to build a 300,000-square-foot beef processing facility near Kuna, Idaho, creating up to 600 new jobs.

Simplot and Caviness Beef Packers announced Tuesday it expects to open in the fall of 2016, pending regulatory approval.

In a press release, Simplot officials say the processing plant will be called CS Beef Packers, LLC. The two companies say they're investing $100 million to build the facility.

4435Russet / Flickr Creative Commons

The J.R. Simplot Company has delayed the closure of two potato processing plants in Idaho.

Simplot spokesman David Cuoio told the Capital Press that layoffs at the Aberdeen plant are now expected to happen in September, and the Nampa plant will likely close Oct. 31.

The company initially planned to close both facilities this spring, but decided to keep them open longer after getting more customer orders than expected.

The federal government is providing $4.2 million of federal assistance to workers recently laid off at the J.R. Simplot Company and an Idaho Falls call center.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday that $2.6 million will be available for the 435 workers who were laid off from August 2013 to April of this year at J.R. Simplot facilities.

Another $1.6 million will be allocated to the nearly 200 workers who were affected by a March 31 closure at Center Partners call center in Idaho Falls.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Idaho aims to unload $70,000 in surplus furniture that once filled the never-occupied governor's mansion before it was returned to potato mogul J.R. Simplot's family this year.

The Spokesman-Review reports the furnishings include two bedroom sets, dining furniture, wall art and kitchen supplies.

The Idaho Governors Housing Committee Wednesday decided to dispose of the items that are now costing about $318 a month to store.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

The magazine The Land Report, targeted at people who own a lot of land, published its list of America’s largest landowners last week. Media tycoons John Malone and Ted Turner  top the list of 100 with more than 2 million acres apiece.

And it's no surprise that some familiar Idaho names appear on the list. 

Here's how they stack up.

#18 The Simplot Family

Peter Patau / Flickr Creative Commons

Derrick Martinez had been with Blick’s Phosphate Conversion for a year and a half. Blick’s, which is based in Kansas, subcontracts with Idaho’s J. R. Simplot Company in Pocatello to help make a phosphate-based fertilizer. While Martinez was working in his company’s mobile production trailer at the Simplot site last weekend, something went wrong.

A man who was working for a subcontractor at a Simplot fertilizer plant near Pocatello has died at a Utah hospital after being exposed to ammonia last weekend.

A man working at the Simplot fertilizer plant west of Pocatello was hospitalized in critical condition after apparently being exposed to ammonia over the weekend.

The Power County Sheriff's Office says 23-year-old Derrick E. Martinez of Garden City, Kansas, was found unconscious in a Blick's Phosphate Conversion mobile testing trailer on Simplot property Saturday afternoon.

He was taken to the hospital in Pocatello and then flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City, where he was listed in critical condition on Monday.

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