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Potato Biodiversity Reading

On a separate sheet of paper, answer these questions in complete sentences.

  1. Why are the farmers in the Andes not continuing to grow the many varieties of spuds they used to?
  2. Potatoes were believed to have first been cultivated near the borders of which two modern-day countries?
  3. List the four major food crops.
  4. Farmers began cultivating the potato about ___ years ago.
  5. Why does the "Makes the daughter-in-law weep" potato make the daughter-in-law weep?
  6. If spud is an acronym, what might "spud" stand for?
  7. The International Potato Center in Lima has a gene bank with ___ specimens of native potatoes.
  8. How many varieties of potatoes has the International Potato Center reintroduced to indigenous communities?
  9. What does "indigenous communities" mean?
  10. The Irish in the 19th century had become rather dependent on the potato. It grew well in Ireland and produced good yields. During 1845 to 1850, an epidemic of a mildew called Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans) caused widespread failures in the potato crops and as many as 1.5 million Irish died. The Irish population in 1845 was 8 million. In 1995, this mildew caused $30 million damage in Washington and Oregon. Worldwide, the losses and costs to control it came to $3 billion in 2000. However, some native potatoes are resistant to the blight. Choose one of these topics to write about:
    1. Write a short paragraph to a legislator describing why you think the International Potato Center should (or should not) receive American taxpayer support.
    2. Imagine you are the director of the International Potato Center, layout a plan to diversify your funding sources.
    3. Imagine you are an American consultant to the International Potato Center, describe a program to increase support for potato biodiversity among American consumers.
    4. Explain your thinking: Do you think that biodiversity on Earth has inherent value or should organisms be judged solely by their value to humanity?

Reference: "Tubers' cultural roots drying out in Peru". Laurent Belsie. Christian Science Monitor. Jan 24, 2001.