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September 25 2012

Ancient potatoes hold key to Irish Famine mystery

Potato samples stored for more than 170 years have helped solve the mystery of why blight caused so many deaths in Ireland during the 19th Century.

UK researchers have discovered that the potato blight that caused the Great Famine of 1845-48 was the same strain which caused a second outbreak some 30 years later.

If the same information was available today, farmers and smallholders would be advised to harvest the crop, eat or sell it but not store any seed potatoes for planting the following year.

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