Monday, November 1, 2010

TOTALLY TUBER-LAR, OR: I ONCE HAD A POTATO ALARM CLOCK



It's not too often that the lowly potato can generate multiple news stories over a short period of time, unless there's another installment of Toy Story coming out.  It seems that Indian scientists have developed a genetically-modified potato that packs 60% more protein and amino acids than the ordinary one, using genes from the amaranth seed instead of one from an animal.

Of course, in this day and age the online chorus will opine, and the comments left on the Globe and Mail's online version ranges from critics of Hindu/Muslim diet restrictions, the Indian economy and GMO anything.  And that's the less flippant ones.

It's difficult to overstate the importance of the potato.  It's the world's fourth most grown food crop (maize, rice and wheat round out the top three), with over 323 million tonnes produced in 2005.  It's absolutely crucial to the developing world, where potato consumption has more than doubled in the last twenty years.  In fact, the potato was so important that the United Nations declared 2008 as the Year of the Potato:
It grows fast, it's adaptable, high yielding and responsive to low inputs. Potatoes are ideally suited to places where land is limited and labour is abundant, conditions that characterize much of the developing world. It also has considerable, untapped potential for further increases in yield and productivity, especially in some marginal farming areas unsuitable for other crops. 
(Eric Kueneman, chief of United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, Crop and Grassland Service)
One guy has taken this message heavily to heart. Chris Voigt, Executive Director of the Washington State Potatoes Commission, has announced that he will eat twenty potatoes a day - and nothing else - for sixty straight days in an effort to draw attention to the potato's nutrition value.  The only problem?  It's kinda gross.  Those curious can visit Voigt's blog to check on his progress.  You have to admire his dedication, at the very least.

Joe.
  
  
the clutterer Web Developer

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