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BattdPlayer t1_jd15389 wrote

Without the deliberate improvement of crops like this, we would not be able to support even a fraction of the people that currently live on Earth. The introduction of potatoes helped to keep the peace across Europe for centuries, an economic report has claimed. A study examining the region between 1400 and 1900 found that the introduction of the vegetable from South America 'permanently reduced conflict' for about 200 years.


ron_manager t1_jd17ha4 wrote


They also helped prolong/facilitate other wars. The New Zealand Musket Wars for example are sometimes known as the potato wars, as the introduction of such an easy to grow and high yielding crop allowed for armies to be fed and to fight in ways previously unachievable.,fighting%20that%20had%20come%20before.


Melodic_Survey_4712 t1_jd12nbb wrote

Didn’t all human civilizations do this?


emmacoudertzk t1_jd13u0k wrote

Of course, it's like our ancient ancestors were the OGs of plant-based diets and meal prep.


Dragmire800 t1_jd25r1l wrote

Not the various Inuit societies. They’re all about that meat life


NoIce1551 t1_jd2bqxh wrote

not like the incas, their potatoes biodiversity is insane

the whole subject here is not that they just bred plants, is how much they bred plants in a sistematical way to improve biodiversity in all aspects of agriculture


snazzynewshoes t1_jd50rej wrote

The Inca were relatively late to the party. There were many civilizations in the Andes before them. A Prehistory of South America by Moore is a good over-view, if you are into that kinda stuff.


NoIce1551 t1_jd56obu wrote

yes, good point


snazzynewshoes t1_jd5k8uc wrote

Look at a map of the South American West cost. Notice all the rivers that run from the Andes to the ocean. The people on the ocean, fished. A bit farther up, folks grew cotton for the nets and other crops(some great feats of water engineering). When ya get into elevation, that's where ya get ALL those potato varieties. And the inhabitants knew which varieties grew in which micro-climate.

Wiki says potatoes were grown as early as 8K BCE. The inca didn't really flex their muscles until the 1400ish.


Thiccaca t1_jd1r9u2 wrote

It is amazing how much the Colombian Exchange impacted global diets.

Tomatoes are from the New World. Before that, there were no tomatoes in Europe.

Imagine Italian food without tomatoes. Indian food with no chile peppers. Potatoes alone kept Ireland running for decades. Until they didn't.


me_bails t1_jd353nf wrote

Yea, but the Ireland thing was created by rich people being aholes. That famine should have never happened, at least not how it did and to the extent it did.


Thiccaca t1_jd3w00q wrote

It was, like most famines, a confluence of events.

I was just remarking on the impact that one plant had.


that_other_goat t1_jd3hjct wrote

>The Irish famines origins are from Catholicism, Irish laws of inheritance and a limited gene pool of potatoes. It would have happened without the British being there as the British exploited the situation that the Irish created themselves.
>What happened? All potatoes in Europe were descended from 5 tubers. This presented a huge decline in genetic variability and meant if one got sick they all would this was a time bomb.
>What about the land?
>The land divisions which allowed for easy English takeover was rooted in Catholicism and period Irish law. What happened is the land was subdivided amongst all sons every generation. Sounds fair? but no it was a terrible idea as it combined big families with limited space. In a few generations this combination rapidly resulted in useless parcels of land being inherited which were promptly sold off.
>This is what allowed the British to acquire Irish lands for a song because alone they were worthless to period people. You couldn't produce anything with them of sufficient scale to feed yourself. Instead of changing this they continued down this path.
>Enter the potato.
>The potato was viewed as a godsend because it allowed for the production of almost everything a person needed on a small sliver of even poor quality land and gave an income as well. The British had nothing to do with this sub division they exploited it after the damage had already been done. The potato was a stay of execution to be blunt it was a time bomb that was always going to go off this merely exacerbated the situation.
>The Irish became dependent on one crop something even in the period they knew was a bad idea due to frequent crop failures through out European and even Irish history. Famines were common before modern agricultural systems. They were doomed the second that inheritance law came about.
>You can blame the English for not sharing their crops but not for the famine itself that was 100% not their fault. It was always going to happen. A cruel irony is if the potato hadn't come about the deaths would have been smaller as they could have corrected the problem before it became a wildfire.
>Why didn't they give the Irish the wheat crops? or beef crops? that had nothing to do with the origins of the famine itself. They should have but it wouldn't have changed that the failure happened it was always going to happen. The British turned a blind eye to what was always going to happen.
>The people acquiring the land didn't matter as well the sub divisions still would have happened as it was engrained in their laws and culture. It was always a timebomb sitting under the Irish population which got added to by the potato.
>Moral of the story? never trust a stopgap to be a solution to your problems. Fix the problems. We're walking down the same path right now with climate change.


me_bails t1_jd3ilbh wrote

The English exporting literal tons of food from Ireland, had nothing to do with the issue?


that_other_goat t1_jd41jfw wrote

I didn't say the British had nothing to do with it I said it would have happened regardless of the British or not they didn't matter. I said ironically the potato made a bad situation worse by propping up a failing system. I said the root of the problem was the inheritance system and the catholic church. The British exploited a failing system but the system was going to fail with or without them. The root of the problem was Irish inheritance law and the catholic church.

To have avoided the disaster you would have to corrected the problem which lead to it. People were going to die the potato made it worse as it created what we now call a bubble and all bubbles eventually pop. Shipping in food wouldn't have worked really well given period logistics. It was all moved by hand we have enough trouble dealing with famines with modern machinery.

Additionally period cultivars of Potatoes and wheat are harvested at different times of the year meaning when the famine first hit it the wheat was already gone it didn't stay locally. The earlies, one of our greatest developments in agriculture in my opinion, were not around yet. The crops in field? were not ready and a good portion of that was seed crop remember you need seed to plant next year.

Until the harvest you're on the fat of last year it's the sad irony that you're more likely to starve in the early summer before the crops are ready then in the dead of winter. They're known as the hungry times for a reason and this was true of everywhere. It hit at the worst possible time.

Add insult to injury blight can hit at any stage of potato development up until harvest as the weather triggers the spores development which ruins the crop so they got continually fucked over by potatoes.

History is complex but it teaches if you don't deal with the root of the problem you're destined to hit that problem head on. The Irish were well aware of their issues with land and continued to sell it off. Avoiding problems leads to disaster and that's a lesson we desperately need right now need I explain why?


rsclient t1_jd4krvj wrote

Well, reading your first sentence certainly gives the impression that you're not blaming the British:

> The Irish famines origins are from Catholicism, Irish laws of inheritance and a limited gene pool of potatoes

If your statement is true, we can confidently say that in Europe there are more famines in catholic countries than in protestant ones. Looking at the data, there are essentially no famous famines in spain, italy, or france -- which rather limits the value of assigning blame to being catholic.


that_other_goat t1_jd4ulnd wrote

You've made a false assumption.

All protestant nations were once Catholic the religion didn't change until the protestant reformation. The reformation caused many different schism in the church to form but the basics are pretty much the same and a lot of legal and cultural conditions come from that. The cultural practice I was referencing came from the catholic church itself not the religion it represented and they stuck around. It is still there even in modern secular Europeans societies.

Again you need to go to the root to find the issues. It was bad law and an a bit of Catholicism that planted a ticking timebomb.


sharksnut t1_jd58rjl wrote

>All protestant nations were once Catholic



that_other_goat t1_jd5tnyc wrote

Even Scandinavia.

The Christianization of the Scandinavian counties took place between the 8th and the 12th centuries whereas Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis on October 31, 1517 triggering the protestant reformations so yes they were Catholic. There was a few centuries where catholic was Christianity for the west. Eastern Orthodox was in the East out of Byzantium (eastern Roman Empire)

Interesting side note: the catholic church wouldn't have spread as it did without Charlamagne.


sharksnut t1_jd6eqda wrote

Yes, I know the dates, but I thought portions went directly from paganism to Christianity.


that_other_goat t1_jd7eg7f wrote

okay so you missed the intervening steps.

A lot of the structures we use in the west came to us via the catholic church even those that found their way to us from the ancient world.

Catholic monks copied and preserved the texts. The first printed book was the bible there was a reason a translation from Latin was such a big deal. The catholic church was the gate keeper for all information as they produced the books and were the majority of those that taught.

Catholicism is how the people of the era understood their world it was in everything. For example If you read agricultural texts from the period you'll see it's steeped in saints and religious symbology as most of the literate and producers of books was the clergy.

Reformation Europe inherited all this ingrained dogma.

my entire point is history is complex and long term. My point is you have to find the root of the problem to deal with anything else nothing gets done. This is a lesson we refuse to learn and one we've repeated time and time again.


daseined001 t1_jd1fpji wrote

Nitpick: genetically modified is not the same as selective breeding. GMO is a recent thing that, barring ancient aliens, the inca did not do. What they did is selective breeding for beneficial traits.


babybambam t1_jd1nnnj wrote

Nitpick: Selective breeding is a form of genetic modification.


beastroll87 t1_jd2ug9j wrote

Selective breeding would not be considered GM, hence it does not say on every food you buy - only those that are actually GM i.e. artificial insertion or deletion of DNA


Joseluki t1_jd34ica wrote

You are wrong. Source, I am fucking biotechnologist.

Just have a look at introgression.


beastroll87 t1_jd36z81 wrote

I'm a Biotechnologist too. Answer me this: how does normal food like for example wheat which has obviously been selectively bred is not labelled as GM, but other products that have been GM are labelled as such. Use common sense. Here is a site for you to understand cos clearly you need to go back to college:


Joseluki t1_jd3807g wrote

Because policy is made by politicians, not scientists.

Selective breeding is a means of genetical modification, it is genetic engineering.

Your aim is to obtain a progeny with certain genotype so you are directing their breeding towards it.

That is why the term GMO exits, to make a disctinction between organisms that have been obtained by selective breeding and hydridzation vs organisms that have been obtained by genomic techniques.

You could crossbreed to obtain genetically modified dwarf strains of cereals that would not bend by the weight of their seeds.

You could push a microorganisms to certain environments during multiple generations to obtain a more resistant to toxic subproduct or an antibiotic without ever having to use genomic technique. And that is considered metabolic engineering. You could obtain the same result using genomic techniques too and that would be a GMO organism.


KypDurron t1_jd3n2jq wrote

> Answer me this: how does normal food like for example wheat which has obviously been selectively bred is not labelled as GM, but other products that have been GM are labelled as such.

You're seriously arguing that a scientific concept should be defined based on how politicians and bureaucrats use the term?


babybambam t1_jd2v5ia wrote

You’re referring to genetic engineering…which is also a form of genetic modification.


beastroll87 t1_jd2vagd wrote

No, GM. Look at the food you buy and see if it says GE or GM on it.


KypDurron t1_jd3mqco wrote

Look at the food you buy and see if it says "the labeling on this food should be used as an authority as to the definition of a scientific term"


nopantsirl t1_jd23r9i wrote

Not in common parlance, no. If you ask anyone in a grocery store if some organic sweetcorn is genetically modified, they will assure you it is not.


jackfaire t1_jd26jpb wrote

I mean yeah. This is what selective breeding is. It's why I snort when people complain about GMOs (for the same reasons they should object to selective breeding)


rsclient t1_jd4l1pr wrote

Here's my alternative point of view: GMO adds in radically different genes into a plant (famously, making goldfish glow-in-the-dark). This adds very substantially to the risks of GMOs compared to "mere" selective breeding


[deleted] t1_jda38v4 wrote



rsclient t1_jddg58f wrote

And by precise you mean both "add in the heat resistance gene" and also "add in a pesticide gene that kills bazillions of insects, but that's someone else's problem"

It's that second thing that's the problem. GMOs let the big agri businesses grab lots of profits while dumping all of the potential problems onto the common people.


jackfaire t1_jd4v1nh wrote

The reverse is true. Selective breeding is "Hoping" the genes you want to become dominant do. GMO is knowing which ones will.

Selective breeding is to a saw removing a limb as GMOs are to a surgical scalpel removing gangrene. The latter technique allows you to be much more specific and to have more of an idea of what's going on.


cinnapear t1_jd2wv5a wrote

If you use this loose a definition than every human civilization genetically modified food.


calloutfolly t1_jd2ydxh wrote

Genetic modification (and gene editing) involves specific techniques. Creating a transgenic plant by inserting a gene from a different species (using Agrobacterium or particle bombardment) is different from just breeding plants together. You can't breed a tomato and a fish together and make offspring, but you can take a gene from a fish and insert it with genetic engineering to develop a new variety of tomato.


Joseluki t1_jd3m0fu wrote

Not all GM organisms are transgenic organisms. There is a distinction.

You can obtain GM organisms without the use genomic techniques just by selective breeding or metabollic engineering and forced evolution.

A cow is a GM organisms as well as basically every crop and fruit tree we eat.


rsclient t1_jd3gtxd wrote

Genetically modified? The ancient Incas were able to use the polymerase chain reaction? They had the ability to use x-ray crystallography like Rosalind Franklin did to discover the double-helix nature of DNA centuries?

Genetically modified doesn't just mean working on a lineage to make it more of what we want. "Genetically modified" means that we're combining otherwise un-combinable genes together.


J_B_Frawg t1_jd1jlza wrote

They didn't genetically modify shit. I can't stand that. They bred shit. They didn't take dna from a fish and put it into a potato so that it would produce pesticide.


A_Generic_White_Guy OP t1_jd1jsr1 wrote

By definition selective breeding is a form of genetic modification.

You're thinking of genetic engineering.


GoGaslightYerself t1_jd2vndo wrote

> By definition selective breeding is a form of genetic modification.

Since animals "select" their mates, in many cases based on the mother or father's (heritable) fitness to birth and rear offspring, I guess that means "genetic modification" is as old as sexual reproduction.


stu54 t1_jd26qvh wrote

TIL insects and plants "genetically modified" eachother.


Level3Kobold t1_jd1xvjx wrote

"Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or genetic manipulation, is the modification and manipulation of an organism's genes using technology"

Courtesy of wikipedia

What definition are you pulling from?


A_Generic_White_Guy OP t1_jd1y93k wrote

Genetic modification: The production of heritable improvements in plants or animals for specific uses, via either genetic engineering or other more traditional methods. Some countries other than the United States use this term to refer specifically to genetic engineering.

Seems like that's where the difference comes from.

These all are considered genetic modification in the US.


stu54 t1_jd2620r wrote

Sounds like some BS from the food industry to make non-GMO labels legally meaningless.


J_B_Frawg t1_jd7liuf wrote

Exactly what I was thinking. We're getting downvoted by Monsanto 👢 👅


AgentElman t1_jd1soe4 wrote

And by definition anything that can move itself is an automobile.

Except we don't use the literal meaning of words, except when we want to deliberately be obtuse for propaganda purposes.