Agri-business News child potato experiment

Published on June 25th, 2011 | by Becky Striepe

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A Child’s Potato Experiment Reveals Importance of Organic

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child potato experiment

Elise was doing a science experiment with sweet potatoes and was puzzled when her potatoes refused to vines.

She asked her grocery store’s produce manager why that was. Here’s what she found out:

Is this astute young lady going to be the next Birke Baehr?

It turns out that those conventional sweet potatoes were treated with a chemical called chlorpropham, or “bud nip,” which prevents potatoes from developing eyes after they’ve been harvested. The Pesticide Action Network does not classify chlorpropham as a carcinogen, but it does list it as toxic to honeybees. Honeybees, and pollinators like them, pollinate 30% of our world’s food plants.

In the lab, animals chronically exposed to bud nip experienced, “retarded growth, increased liver, kidney and spleen weights, congestion of the spleen and death.” This may or may not affect consumers, and it’s farm workers who spray this chemical on a regular basis who are most at risk.

What do you guys think about this growth inhibitor? Personally, I’d rather cut some stray eyes off of my potatoes than eat a questionable chemical. What about you?

Image Credit: Screenshot from video above.



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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • http://Web Becky

    Absolutely. I think at this point we need to stop doing anything that even might be affecting honey bees. They are in crisis right now and nobody has figured out why.

    Produce managers need to learn to put potatoes in the refrigerated section. Time and time again I’ve seen sprouted organic potatoes that will be tossed and it could have been prevented by simply putting them in the other case.

    • http://Web Bronacos

      . Sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated -they get mealy and stringy.

    • http://Web nerkles

      Actually, they have figured out what causes colony collapse. Surprise! It’s pesticides!

  • http://Web Evz

    There’s no good reason for humans to eat chlorpropham, or any other of the suspected/ confirmed carcinogens designed to maximize Monsanto(et al)’s profits. Pure foolishness– hard to believe we put up with it! An educated consumer base is the key… Hopefully things are changing, albeit slowly, to a more sensible paradigm.

  • http://Web Ria

    Why was there a difference between the two organic potatoes? How do we know we are buying the organic behind door #3, and not the wimpy-vined one behind door #2? Anyone know?

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      That’s a really good question! I wonder the same thing.

      • http://rhondawinter.com/ rhonda winter

        The differences in the amount of growth of each organic sweet potato could be attributed to a number of factors: it is likely that they are different varieties of sweet potatoes, each with their own unique growth character traits; one of the potatoes also may have been harvested more recently, or was perhaps grown in more fertile conditions; it is also possible that one of the plants may just have been genetically naturally better suited to the specific growing conditions where the experiment took place.

        • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

          You rock as usual, Rhonda!

  • anonymous

    It is toxic to honeybees!! Oh no. This is so bad. I love sweet potatoes and eat them so often. Elise~Great job on your experiment and video outlining your findings! It’s so informative.

  • http://Web Christine Farrell

    I’d far rather have natural produce, and “cut off the eyes’ or deal with other blemishes.
    And the current trend of a vegetable or fruit being deemed blemished just because it’s the wrong shape or size leaves me cold.
    I want my shops to provide me with fresh produce, at its healthiest.
    If I need antibiotics or other medicines, I’ll go see my own doctor for myself.
    And I certainly do NOT want to be eating/drinking other chemicals – especially not when I don’t know about them.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      I agree completely, Christine! What troubles me even more is that big ag companies sometimes can’t even tell you what was sprayed on the crops they package and sell, because they don’t operate the individual farms.

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  • http://Web anonymous

    I just wish we could find organic food that is economically priced.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      I’d recommend hitting up your local farmers market for that. If you go near closing you can get some really good deals, and even if you go earlier they’ll often throw in some extras and whatnot if you’re nice. :)

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