If you thought potatoes had it bad in the 1840s…
Do you remember the Irish potato famine of the 1840s? Of course you don’t – I doubt that any of you are 170 years old.
But you’ve heard about it, I’m sure. It was caused by Phytophthora infestans – which is still around today, but in a different form. Homeland Security News Wire:
A North Carolina State University release reports that the researchers found that the genes in historical plant samples collected in Belgium in 1845 as well as other samples collected from varied European locales in the late 1870s and 1880s were quite different from modern-day P. infestans genes, including some genes in modern plants that make the pathogen more virulent than the historical strains….
An estimated $6.2 billion is spent each year on crop damage and attempts to control the pathogen….
As far as I know, Phytophthora infestans has not rendered entire regions potato-less. But the ongoing efforts to control it show that you can fight Mother Nature, but you can never win.