U.S. Scientists Need More Time

Published online: Mar 02, 2001
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Canada's frustration with the U.S. border closure to Prince Edward Island potatoes has been taken to another level.

Following a meeting in Washington, DC, this week, PEI Agriculture Minister Mitch Murphy warned U.S. officials of what would happen to them if they found themselves in a similar situation.

A resolution was passed to seek alternative mechanisms to deal with such disputes.

Another meeting will be held Wednesday, March 7, between Canadian Ag Minister Vanclief and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in another move by the Canadians to try to solve the dispute.

The border has been closed since last November after potato wart fungus was found in a field in PEI. The dreaded fungus scared the U.S. potato industry, which is fearful it could be carried on potatoes, packaging, trucks, etc., into the U.S.

During the meeting, Murphy met with representatives from Maine, Idaho and APHIS. The thrust of the meeting was that U.S. scientists need more time to make sure the fungus is properly quarantined. Many U.S. industry representatives do not believe adequate testing can be done in the winter when the soil is frozen.

On another front, Canadian Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew met with his U.S. counterpart and believes he has convinced him to deal with the potato wart issue on a scientific rather than a trade level.

Pettigrew expects a Canadian scientist to be included when a U.S. delegation goes to Europe to review potato-wart handling expertise.