In the mid-19th century, a disproportionate share of the potatoes grown in Ireland were of a single variety, the 'Irish Lumper', because that flourished in the poor Irish soil. Crops failed for several years in a row in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and – later – in mainland Europe.
From 1845 until 1857 over a million Irish died and forced another two million to emigrate (read: flee) to unaffected countries like the US because their potatoes were under attack from a strain (HERB-1) of a fungus-like organism, Phytophthora infestans.
You might think that modern insecticides or fungicides, algicides, and all other types of biocides are potent enough to counter all possible threats. But they are not.
During the middle of the last century, the Panama disease virtually wiped out the single most important banana variety, the ‘Gros Michel’, and we are now forced to eat the lesser tasting ‘Cavendish’. But that one is now also under threat from a new, mutated version of the Panama disease. See here for more banana news.
|[Image by Asit Ghosh| Tommy Atkins]|