Canadian agricultural officials responded to growers and other industry representatives on the controversy surrounding the discovery of potato wart on Prince Edward Island at the NPC Seed Seminar Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 in Las Vegas, NV.
Both Cameron Duff, acting national manager of the seed potato division of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Kenneth Proudfoot, a plant breeder and agricultural consultant working with PEI on the problem, told the group the disease is contained and there is no scientific reason the border should remain closed.
According to Duff, the CFIA has taken control of the land, storage and processing of the potatoes involved. Both he and Proudfoot said the land involved encompasses about one acre.
He explained the agency has taken over 10,000 soil samples from within the infected area and other areas on the farm since the fungal pathogen's discovery. He emphasized spores were not found in any samples except for some from the infected area. The agency also is monitoring all crops harvested from the same seed source but has not found any evidence of the pathogen.
Both Duff and Proudfoot indicated Canadian potatoes, including those from PEI, pose no threat to the U.S. industry and favored opening the border. They claimed science has proven their case.
However, U.S. growers at the meeting expressed concern about opening the border to PEI. Some said the testing methods the agency used are outdated and not effective in detecting the pathogen. Others claimed opening the border and allowing the possibility of a U.S. potato wart infection would damage current and potential U.S. export markets.