Potatoes Anyone?

Thought you might enjoy hearing this "important"news story from Peru:

LIMA, Peru - They fought a war over a swath of mineral-rich desert, battled countless times on the soccer field and have even dueled over the origins of a pungent liquor both claim as a national drink. Now, Peru and Chile can add potatoes to its grudge list. Peruvian officials are rankling over plans by their Chilean counterparts to register 286 varieties of potatoes as part of Chile's "national heritage."

"The potato is a Peruvian product and there are scientific studies that confirm it," Peru's Foreign Trade Minister Alfredo Ferrero told reporters Thursday, after hearing the plans by Chilean university scientists on the varieties they developed in southern Chile. The designation of the potato varieties as part of the official heritage of Chile would amount to more than national pride. It would lay the groundwork to a future legal patent.

Researchers at Chile's Austral University announced plans to register the genetic characteristics of the potatoes with Chile's Agriculture and Cattle Service to prevent anyone outside of Chile from cultivating the varieties and claiming them as their own. "This project is about registering something that belongs to our country. These are varieties that have been developed and are grown in Chile," said Andres Contreras, one of the Chilean scientists who worked on the potatoes. Ferrero scoffed that Chile would next try to register the colors of Peru's flag. Nationalistic rancor has smoldered between Chile and Peru since the 1879-84 War of the Pacific, when Chile seized Peruvian land.

The nations frequently argue over issues, large and small — including the maritime border, culinary prowess and the name rights to Pisco, a liquor which Peru claims as its own, but is trademarked, produced and marketed in greater volume by its business-savvy neighbor.
A study last year funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that modern potatoes can be traced genetically to an original Peruvian spud cultivated in more than 7,000 years ago.
But William Roca, director of genetic studies at the International Potato Center in Peru, told The Associated Press that Chile was within its rights to lay claim to more recent potato varieties that have evolved in Chilean soil.

"Chile can declare potatoes originally from Chilean soil as cultural patrimony. That's fine," he said. "It's something that other countries should do."