Questions Remain On Potato Wart

Published online: Jan 21, 2002
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Talk about the potato wart problem on Prince Edward Island, Can, is going in all directions.

Some are now saying Canadian growers are lucky the United States border is open at all and they're relieved the ramifications weren't worse.

However, an Agriculture Standing Committee is still unable to get two Canadian Food Inspection investigators to testify in hearings. The matter is awaiting a court decision whether the provincial committee has the power to compel federal officials to testify.

Many growers believe their government sold them out, bending to pressure from the United States to prevent Canadian potatoes into the U.S.

Dr. Robert Coffin, a respected potato plant health specialist who works for Cavendish Farms and who originally identified the wart, requested his report not be made public.

Some people believe he doesn't want to direct publicity on a few people. They believe Cavendish should have kept the matter a secret. Others say it could have been scandalous if it had leaked out.

Ivan Noonan, PEI potato management director, says to his knowledge everything has been done properly. Just the same, some find the secrecy surrounding the issue unsettling. In general, the Committee is satisfied with Coffin's report.