Evolution of Markers for Traceability of Organic vs. Conventional Potatoes

Background and methodology 
Identification of the parameters used to distinguish between organic and conventional produce should help prevent misconduct and could provide a basis for comparing these the two types of produce. This study looked at selected markers for organically and conventionally grown potato tubers in four separate field trials. Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum cultivars “ Vivaldi’ and ‘Hermes’) were grown by farmers according to organic agricultural practices (EU Council Regulation 2092/91), and managed conventionally according to local farming practices that conformed to integrated pest management (European Economic Council Regulation 2200/96). In order t o guarantee similar soil and climate, conditions were as uniform as possible for both types of produce; only locations where organic and conventional tubers could be grown in adjacent plots were chosen.

In all sites and in both cultivars tested, irrespective of environment, the organic tubers exhibited a significant enrichment in 15N when compared to their conventional counterparts. The study also looked at other parameters selected on the basis of reports of alterations as a consequence of agricultural technique – such as ascorbic acid, protein content and dry matter. The four field trials did not show any consistent trends of variation for these parameters. This study concluded that 15N enrichment appears to be a promising discriminative marker.


Camin,  F., Moschella, A., Miselli, F., Parisi, B., Versini, G., Ranall, P., and Bagnaresi, P. (2007). Evaluation of markers for the traceability of potato tubers grown in an organic versus conventional regime.  Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(7), 1330-1336. Available on-line at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.2853.