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Re: [SANET-MG] BBC NEWS | UK | England | Tyne/Wear | Researchers hail organic potatoes

John responded to Lawrence's suggestion:

>> While we're at it we might as well put together a complete list
>> of all soil-dwelling growth promoting, disease preventing,
>> nitrogen-fixing, soil health and biodiversity-building
>> microorganisms, invertebrates and other organisms. Elaine has a
>> list of 7 of the most important. We could use them as primary
>> categories to build on.

as follows:

> I am probably a great disappointment to others in my profession of
> biologist but I have so far not had too much interest in species
> specific relationships in soil. We know there are at least 25.000
> (maybe 40.000) different species of micro organism in an average
> spoonful of soil. The number of possible relationships between all
> these organisms is a bit too complex for my purpose (which was
> growing potatoes organically in Ireland without having problems
> with blight).

> My reasoning was that there was probably some organism in all that
> lot that would live on Phytophtora infestans ([potato] blight) and
> that would thus protect potato crops from this disease if only it
> were plentiful enough. To get it plentiful I grew blight prone
> potato varieties and let the diseased plant-parts rot in situ then
> planted more potatoes on top that I left in the ground over the
> wettest winter imaginable.

> As I explained before on this list (it is slightly more complex
> than the very shortened story here) I have been able to grow
> potatoes absolutely blight free for at least 15 years now. Whether
> my guardian angel organism is Pisolithus tinctorius I doubt
> because we don't have "dog-turd-mushrooms" here at all.

I think you are right: Understanding and making use of the principle
at work (evolution) is more important than identifying the specific
mechanisms & organisms that made your potatoes resistant (and both
microorganisms and the genetics of the potatoes are probably at work

But Larry is right too regarding the need to be aware of which
microorganisms are beneficial for pest and disease protection and so
am I regarding the need to understand the conditions under which
each one thrives.

> I was interested in growing healthy potatoes in the first place
> for my own family and that has been successful but to get rich out
> of potato blight it is necessary to come up with specific names so
> that patents can be secured. That I will gladly leave to someone
> else for I can see a few other priorities in my life.

One).- No one can (or should) patent natural biological processes (or
for that matter, living organisms - and that is exactly why those
whose chief concern is personal rather than public's benefit shifted
their efforts to GM crops - so they can patent them; disregarding
their effects on the environment, public health and non-GM farmers).

Two).- My chief concern is simply: Change the basis of the nation's
dominant agricultural production system and therefore, the way
agriculture in general is practiced.

In order to accomplish that goal, we need to develop a standards
based approach. Your faith was generated &/or reinforced by your
understanding of the biological principals that in turn,
demonstrated the validity of that faith and approach.

Where I am, few farmers share your knowledge so we have our work cut
out for us when organizing evaluation and demonstration projects.
Most importantly, resources for sustainable rural development
projects of this type depend on our being able to present principles
backed by data derived from replicable experiments carried out by
accredited universities and research institutions somewhere in the

Based on those historical events, we can obtain financing from
sources that provide a results dependant pay back scheme (IOW, the
risks are shared). Obviously, solutions that generate positive
results in one place and time may not be applicable to another, but
a knowledge base that helps our understanding of those differences
and permits us to foresee prepare for pests, disease and
deficiencies and will develop with time.

As you can see, this is not a trivial goal and frankly, I am
somewhat disappointed in the lack of response from those involved in
the academic and governmental research loop.

I am also unaware if my principal post appeared on sanet (if it was,
I never received it - Lawrence got a copy off-list - and even the
self bcc didn't come back - it may be my ISP or gmx).

> Wishing you every success though,
> John 

Thanks John. As always, your valuable and relevant input is highly


I'm sure you agree that the meaning of "getting rich" depends on
one's health, values, family and contribution to (and role in)

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