Some of the United States’ top potato pathologists have labeled a news release containing information that a shipment of Idaho and Oregon potatoes had a pathogen as “phony as a $3 bill.”
Dr. James R. Davis, University of Idaho plant pathologist emeritus, said the release coming from a group listed as the North America Plant Pathology Society is inaccurate and he does not know of any such society.
Davis said the fact South Korea is quarantining a shipment of fresh potatoes for “Verticillium Tenerum” is ridiculous. He said he has never heard of such a species of Verticillium. Study of Verticillium in potatoes has been his life-long work.
The release issued Jan. 2 from Seoul, Korea, calls Verticillium Tenerum a pathogen. Davis says verticillium is not a pathogen but a fungus.
A group known as Korea’s National Plant Quarantine Service detained the shipment and asked that it be destroyed or shipped back to the United States. NPQS is reportedly “monitoring the situation in Korea and will send out further alerts as events warrant.”
The release, faxed to Potato Grower magazine in Idaho Falls, ID, had a very unusual last paragraph. It states, “We would request that you forward this alert to your state’s agriculture plant protection official.”
Potato Grower magazine does not serve as a go-between for any official government quarantine announcements.
To add more suspicion to the announcement, there was no telephone listing for the North America Plant Pathology Society in Fresno, CA. Two other Idaho potato researchers including a second pathologist said they had never heard of such a group.