`Potato Police' Patrol On PEI

Published online: Oct 05, 2001
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Some 200 "potato police," as they have been called, are patrolling the potato fields on Prince Edward Island for the past three weeks looking for signs of potato wart.

So far, none of the 5,000 fields checked have shown any sign of the fungal pathogen. Seed potato crops are receiving the closest inspections.

The effort is part of the three-year commitment of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with the U.S. Government to monitor fall potato harvests to ensure PEI potatoes get back into the United States.

Officials say there were 700 applications for the 200 inspector jobs. Senior inspectors must have certain educational requirements while assistant inspectors do not.

"It's a lot of people to hire," says Don Love, of the CFIA. "But, we couldn't hire them unless we needed them." The Canadian government will pay the bill.

Danny Hendricken of the National Farmers Union said, "PEI is in danger of becoming a processing province because of the stringent testing."