Requirements: Corn (Zea mays) is one of the leading crops grown in the United States – if not the leading crop. Along with the obvious use of corn as food for both humans and animals, corn is also found in adhesives,fabrics, plastics, along with a host of other materials. Of course, corn-based ethanol is also widely known for anyone who regularly visits a gas station.
Given the enormity of corn’s role in the American economy as well as the global economy, prepare a detailed research paper on: What would happen if the 1970 Southern corn leaf blight pandemic were to appear again, either from natural causes or because of purposeful human intervention (e.g., agroterrorism)?
This paper will obviously call for research on the 1970 Southern corn leaf blight pandemic and the impact of the blight on food supplies and financial systems. As the paper is prepared, be sure to consider:
- Size, or acreage of the United States corn crop
- Ubiquity, or the number of states where corn is a major crop
- Value of the United States corn crop
- Economic impact of corn
- Domestic production, consumption, and other uses
- International trade
- Causes (e.g., vector) of Southern corn leaf blight
- Background on the 1970 Southern corn leaf blight pandemic and why it was so severe in 1970
- How was Southern corn leaf blight first noticed?
- Once Southern corn leaf blight was noticed what were the immediate reactions by individual farmers, by County Extension Agents, by Land Grant University personnel (e.g., in Florida, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agri- cultural Sciences (IFAS) serves in this capacity), by federal officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, by representatives from industry such as seed companies, ?
- What was the immediate impact of Southern corn leaf blight on the nation’s economy? What was the long-term impact of Southern corn leaf blight on the nation’s economy? How did the stock market react to the blight, both short-term and long-term?
- What immediate actions, if any, were taken to recover and salvage the 1970 corn crop among those impacted by the blight?
- What long term actions, if any, were taken to recover from the devastation of the 1970 Southern corn leaf blight so that the blight would not reoccur? Who put these actions into effect and how were they accepted by the farming community – those immediately impacted by the blight, by seed companies, and by the overall food industry?
- How Southern corn leaf blight could be purposely introduced into the United States corn crop
- Research labs
- Seed production and distribution
- How the occurrence of Southern corn leaf blight would be discovered and monitored
- Mitigation (if possible)
- Actions to prevent any future occurrence
- Now, more than 40 years after occurrence of the 1970 Southern corn leaf blight, what is being done to monitor and prepare for the possibility of another equally damaging blight, virus, insect infestation, or other destructive pathogen that could have wide-ranging impact on American agriculture?
- What is the role of Land Grant University agricultural experimental stations, seed companies, andbreeding programs to prevent these calamities?
- Given our current readiness infrastructure, what government agencies would likely respond, today, to a wide-spread threat to our nation’s crops? How would the response be structured?
Other topics of a more a personal interest will be considered for this paper, but they would need to match the national scope and magnitude of the 1970 Southern corn leaf blight pandemic.