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Chapter One
Hungry Planet: Stories of Plant Diseases

Questions for Discussion


1.  Would the Irish potato famine have occurred even without the late blight epidemics? What social, economic, and political aspects of Irish peasant life made these people’s situation so precarious?

2.  How do scientists use the word "theory," and how is the word used in casual conversation? What misconceptions have resulted from these different uses?

3.  How many species of plants provide most of the world’s calories today? Is the world food supply more secure today than the food supply of the Irish peasants was at the time of the potato famine? Explain your answer.

4.  What is the difference between a pathogen and a disease? For late blight of potatoes and tomatoes, what is the pathogen and what is the disease? Why is a parasite not necessarily a pathogen?

5.  What three factors are necessary for disease to occur? Specifically, what are the points of the disease triangle for late blight?