J.R. Simplot

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This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

J.R. Simplot is a privately-owned agricultural genetic engineering company describing itself as "one of the largest privately held food and agribusiness companies in the nation."[1][2] The company was founded in 1929 in Nevada and is now headquartered in Boise, Idaho.[3][4] It is an international company involved in agriculture, fertilizer manufacturing, and food processing in the United States, China, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. As the largest processor of frozen potatoes, the company began supplying potatoes for McDonald's french fries in the 1960s and is now the major supplier for Burger King and Wendy's as well.[5]

J.R. Simplot's genetically engineered potatoes are currently awaiting regulatory approval before they can reach the market.[6] The company also produces fruits and vegetables through its labels RoastWorks and Simplot Classic.[5]

In 2012, J.R. Simplot absorbed Migl Feed and Grain Co., Crop Service Center, Inc, and Dorman Brothers LLC.[7] The company also runs two 501(c)(3) non-profit foundations, J.R. Simplot Company Foundation, Inc and J.R. Simplot Foundation, Inc.

J.R. Simplot's annual sales were about $5.6 billion as of a 2012 company report.[8]

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Genetically Modified Innate™ Potatoes

"Best-intentioned genome tinkering could be accompanied by unforeseen effects on human health and the environment." - Bill Freese[9]

In May 2013, J.R. Simplot submitted a petition to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requesting a non-regulated status on its Innate™ potatoes, "which have been genetically engineered for low acrylamide potential and reduced black spot bruise."[10] Acrylamide is a "natural but potentially cancer-causing neurotoxin, released by potatoes when fried. Such low acrylamid levels would remove potato products from voter-mandated cancer labels in California.[9] Unlike Monsanto's widely protested genetically engineered New Leaf potato of the 90's which used synthetic bacteria genes and lasted only six years in the fields, Simplot's potatoe only uses the potato genome, hence the name Innate™ potato.[9] Haven Baker, Vice President of Simplot's Plant Sciences, describes the Innate™ potato technologies: "The inserted genes come from cultivated potatoes or wild potatoes (a group of related plant species that are sexually-compatible with potatoes). We incorporate no foreign genes, no antibiotic resistance markers, and no vector backbone sequences, into the plant genome."[11] J.R. Simplot initiated USDA regulatory approval in January 2013, for which public comment ended on July 2nd, 2013. An additional FDA safety review was underway as of May 2013.[11] Once approved, J.R. Simplot would sell its genetically engineered potatoes to commercial growers. The potato products would likely reach consumers between 2015 and 2016, unlabeled, and with unknown long-term affects.[12][11]

On similar browning resistant genetic modifications, the apple industry has become concerned that genetically engineered apples will put unmodified apple growers at a competitive disadvantage.[9] Bill Freese, a science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety, predicts that the Innate potatoes will fail, saying:

"Simplot's potatoes join a litany of other genetically engineered crops that don't face rigorous-enough USDA or FDA testing. . . . Genetic engineering is a noisy, unpredictable process, where the best-intentioned genome tinkering could be accompanied by unforeseen effects on human health and the environment."[9]

Freese further warns that although potatoes are consumed directly by humans, there have not been long-term animal feeding trials, and criticizes Simplot for presenting a "miscalculate[d]" public attitude towards GMO's.[9] It is also likely that Innate potatoes, as with most GMO's, will "require excessive use of toxic pesticides, which do pose environmental risks, create harm to other species and inevitably lead to pesticide resistant insects and plants," according to Organic Authority.[13] The CEO of the National Potato Commission, John Keeling, cautions J.R. Simplot to keep its potatoes from reaching foreign markets before being approved in the United States. J.R. Simplot began seeking approval in the spring of 2013 for Innate potatoes in Japan, Mexico, Canada, and South Korea.[9]

McDonald's Refuses to Use Simplot GMO Potatoes

Simplot is one of the major suppliers of potatoes for McDonald's fries. McDonald's will not purchase Simplot's GMO Innate™ potatoes, however, a company spokesperson told the agriculture publication Capital Press in November 2014.[14] The consumer advocacy non-profit Food & Water Watch, which had spearheaded a consumer campaign asking the fast food company not to source GMO potatoes for its fries,[15] praised McDonald's for its announcement and urged other fast food companies to reject GMO potatoes as well.[16]


Board of Directors

As of July 2013:[17][7][18]

  • Scott R. Simplot - Chairman and Executive Committee member
  • William J. Whitacre - Cheif Executive Officer and Executive Director
  • Gay Simplot - Director and Executive Committee member
  • Ted Simplot - Director and Executive Committee member
  • J. E. Simplot - Director and Executive Committee member
  • Debbie McDonald - Director and Executive Committee member
  • Dale Dunn - Director
  • Steven Beebe - Director
  • Joe Marshall - Director
  • Terry Uhling - Secretary
  • Richard Hormaechea - Director
  • Robert Lane - Director
  • Amber Post - Vice President and Treasurer
  • Lawrence Hlobik - Former Director and Member of Executive Committee

Executive Management

As of July 2013:[7][11][19][20]

  • William J. Whitacre - Cheif Executive Officer and Executive Director
  • Becky Randall - Chief Operating Officer
  • Scott McNeley - Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales
  • Garrett Lofto - President of Agribusiness Group
  • Haven Baker - Vice President of Plant Sciences
  • Mark McKellar - President of Simplot Food Group
  • Joel Barker - Vice President and Controller of Agra Business
  • Steve Patterson - Vice President of Sales, Food Group
  • Erin Nuxoll - Vice President of Human Resources
  • Shane Robinson - Information Technology Director
  • Kim Westover - Senior Director of Innovation
  • Susan Collinge - Director of Research and Development
  • Bill Whitacre - Director and Executive Committee Member
  • Connie Demond - Director-Human Resources
  • Kathy Swords - Director of Biotecnology
  • Jim Englar - Plant Director
  • Alan Christie - Director Engineering
  • Derek Shaw - Director IT
  • Ryan Martin - Information Technology Director
  • Ed Cranson - Director / Manager / Department Head / Chief-Safety
  • Val Nielsen - Senior Director Corporate Tax
  • Duane Evans - Senior Director, Quality And Technical Services
  • Dan Johnson - Director Information Technology
  • Janice Dilworth - Vice President, Manager, Director
  • Tom Basabe - Assistant Vice President and Regional District Manager - Central
  • Connie Moser - Administrative Administrator
  • Ken Pyles - Information Systems Manager
  • Brad Baltzer - Marketing Manager
  • Greg Dismuke - Manager, IT Business Integration and IT Project Change
  • Dave Dufault - Business Manager
  • Heidi Butler - HR Services Manager
  • Barbara Weber - Marketing Manager
  • Lori Bishop - Customer Service Manager
  • Bryan Howerton - Database Administrator
  • Traci O'Donnell - Manager of Customer Focus Marketing-Food Products
  • Michael Kissel - Manager of Software Development
  • Barbara Minor - Administrator
  • Kevin Browning - Food Safety Manager
  • Edie Campbell - Information Technology Project Manager
  • Craig Corsentino - Applications Manager
  • Steve Vernon - Food Research and Development Manager

Contact Details

Postal Address:

J.R. Simplot Company
P.O. Box 27
Boise, Idaho 83707

Physical Address:

J.R. Simplot Company
999 Maine St., Suite 1300
Boise, Idaho 83702

As of June 2013, the company's registered agent is David E. Spurling, who can be reached at:[21]

David E. Spurling
999 Maine St., Suite 1300
Boise, Idaho 83702

Phone: (208) 336-2110[4]
Website: http://www.simplot.com

J.R. Simplot Company Foundation, Inc

J.R. Simplot Company Foundation is a 501(c)(3) run by the J.R. Simplot Company. In 2012, J.R. Simplot Company reported a total annual revenue of $931,389 and gave a total of $875,524 in contributions. Recipients of some of the largest donations include:[2]

The foundation also gave $20,000 to Rick Berman's front group, the Center for Consumer Freedom -- which runs "HumaneWatch.org" -- in 2010.[22]


Board of Directors

As of February 2013:[2]

  • Gay C. Simplot - President, Director
  • John Edward Simplot - Vice President, Director
  • Annette Elg - Treasurer
  • Amber H. Post - Assistant Treasurer
  • Laura M. Peterson - Assistant Treasurer
  • Terry T. Uhling - Secretary
  • Scott R. Simplot - Director
  • Debbie S. McDonald - Director

Contact Details

Postal Address:

J.R. Simplot Company
P.O. Box 27
Boise, Idaho 83707

J.R. Simplot Foundation, Inc

J.R. Simplot Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization run by the J.R. Simplot Company. In 2011, J.R. Simplot Foundation reported a total annual revenue of $5,036,711 and gave a total of $7,236,531 in contributions, of which $6,800,000 went to the Idaho Community Foundation.[23]


Board of Directors

As of August 2012:[23]

  • Debbie McDonald - President, Director
  • Scott Simplot - Vice President, Director
  • Gay Simplot - Director
  • Don Simplot - Director
  • Ted Simplot - Director
  • Ron Graves - Secretary
  • Annette Elg - Treasurer

Contact Details

Postal Address: [23]

J.R. Simplot Company
P.O. Box 27
Boise, Idaho 83707

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. ,J.R. Simplot, Corporate Overview, corporate website, accessed July 8, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R. Simplot Company Foundation, Inc., 2012 Form 990, foundation annual IRS filing, February 11, 2013.
  3. , J.R. Simplot, Corporate Overview, corporate website, accessed July 8, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R. Simplot, Corporate Contact, corporate website, accessed July 8th, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R. Simplot Company, Company Information, "Hoovers", accessed July 9, 2013.
  6. Food & Water Watch, Are GE Potatoes Coming to a Store Near You?, advocacy organizational website, accessed July 9, 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Company Overview of J.R. Simplot Company, "Bloomberg Businessweek", accessed July 9, 2013.
  8. J.R. Simplot, 2012 Sustainability Report, corporate report, 2012, accessed March 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 John Miller, Idaho spud giant bets on biotech potatoes, "Associated Press", May 14, 2013.
  10. J.R. Simplot, Availability of Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status of Potato Genetically Engineered for Low Acrylamide Potential and Reduced Black Spot Bruise, "Federal Register" petition, May 3, 2013.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Karl Haro von Mogel, Biology Fortified, Inc. (pro-GMO non-profit), Q&A with Haven Baker on Simplot’s Innate™ Potatoes, organizational blog, May 8, 2013.
  12. Food & Water Watch, Are GE Potatoes Coming to a Store Near You?, organizational website, accessed July 9, 2013.
  13. Jill Ettinger, They’re Back: GMO Potato Producer Seeks USDA Approval for New Variety, "Organic Authority", May 8, 2013.
  14. Mateusz Perkowski, McDonald’s not interested in GMO potatoes, Capital Press, November 13, 2014.
  15. Food & Water Watch, 100,000 Americans tell McDonald’s to Pass on Biotech Fries, organizational press release, November 20, 2013.
  16. Food & Water Watch, McDonald’s Rejects GMO Potatoes, Other Fast Food Chains Should Follow Suit, organizational press release, November 14, 2014.
  17. J.R. Simplot, Corporate Leadership, corporate website, accessed July 8, 2013.
  18. J.R. Simplot, Annual Report, corporate document, December 20, 2012.
  19. J.R. Simplot Company Marketing Contacts, "Hoovers", accessed July 10, 2013.
  20. J. R. Simplot Company, "InsideView", July 5th, 2013.
  21. J.R. Simplot,Statement of Change of Registered Agent, corporate document, June 13, 2013.
  22. J.R. Simplot Company Foundation, Inc., 2010 Form 990, foundation annual IRS form, February 13, 2012.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 J.R. Simplot Foundation, 2011 Annual Report, foundation annual IRS form, August 22, 2012.