Volume Four, 2018
Biotechnology Potato Partnership
Science Based Answers to Sustaining Farmers, Solving Hunger and Securing Our Planet
Sparring with Late Blight; Project Looks to Knock Out this Devasting Disease
By Janet Fierro
Potato, versus fungus; fungus wins, TKO. Phytophthora infestans is an aggressive foe wiping out entire potato crops each season. The fight against late blight globally is an expensive one, its purse is hefty, two studies conducted in 2005 and 2006 put the total loss (direct and through fungicides) at between $3 and $5 billion per year ( Judelson and Blanco, 2005 ; Haldar et al, 2006). Adjusted to today’s dollar that’s between $3.9 and $6.3 billion. That’s a lot of spuds.

Forgoing the financial cost, it is perhaps the value of the potato as a food source that places the bout against late blight in the center ring. As global population is projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050 ( UN-DESA ), food production will need to increase to meet the demand to feed our growing world. Potatoes can be a real contender in meeting this increased food need.
Potato field in Indonesia hit hard by late blight disease.
Realizing the need to jab at the late blight problem, the Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership led by Michigan State University has stepped into the ring with the development of a 3 R-gene (R = resistance gene) late blight resistant potato. Somewhat of an anchor punch, not unlike the well-executed, perfectly-timed counter-punch Muhammad Ali used in his historic first round KO over Sonny Liston, this potato contains the insertion of late blight resistant Rpi-blb2 , Rpi-vnt1 , and Rpi-mcq1 genes from wild potato varieties to pack a triple threat and send late blight down for the count.

“The expectation of the project is to commercialize and bring to market the 3-R gene potato in farmer-preferred varieties, to small-holder farmers in Bangladesh and Indonesia where light blight is difficult to control and can lead to severe crop loss,” says Dr. David Douches, Project Director. “The introduction of this potato is poised to provide food security which is a significant socio-economic benefit for both the farmers and their countries.”

To read more about the project goals please view the complete article here (pdf) .

 GMO Fact Check
Statement: GMO's do not benefit small farmers.

Fact: According to a peer-reviewed study of Bt Brinjal (eggplant) in Bangladesh, smallholder farmers saw benefits in increased profits and lower exposure to pesticides. Read the full report here (pdf).
In Your Kitchen ... The potato is one of the most versatile foods, but chocolate potato cake? You'll be pleasantly surprised.
Chocolate Potato Cake
  • 1 C butter softened
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C cold mashed potatoes (no butter or milk added)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C baking cocoa
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 C whole milk
1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add potatoes and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.

2. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

3. Frost with your favorite frosting and ENJOY!
Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership Annual Report

Download our 2018 Annual Report (pdf).