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Purple potato provides hope for organics

19-Sep-2001

A potato resistant to all fungal diseases could be the new hope for the organic potato industry, researchers reveal this week.


Scientists at the University of Newcastle in England said the potato, apparently so obscure it has no name, appears to be resistant to all fungal diseases and so may not require any chemical treatment, Reuters reports this week.


If trials continue to be successful it could net organic farmers and producers millions of pounds, said Carlo Leifert, a professor of ecological agriculture.


``We tested a wide range of different varieties that have come available fairly recently which organic farmers have no experience with,'' he told Reuters.


"At the very last minute we took on a variety that two Scottish enthusiasts gave us which were from Hungary. It really did amazingly well in trials against blight, and it also had the best vigor - it grew like a weed on a very low-nutrient soil."


He said if the potatoes pass the taste test and supermarket quality tests, they could be on sale in the shops soon.


The trials, funded by the European Union, came about after the EU recently banned the use of copper-based fungicides in organic farming.

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