Alberta Seed Farm Under Examination

Published online: Nov 13, 2003
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An Albert, Canada, seed potato farm has been served an Access to Information Act request to turn over all records in its possession regarding seed shipments to the United States.

Heenan Blaikie, counsel for The Right Honorable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, P.C., is making the request relating to exports of seed potatoes to the United States and the possible relationship to Bacterial Ring Rot.

Bacterial Ring Rot is one of the most devastating diseases known in the potato world. If discovered on a farm, it literally means shutting the farm down for a year so a thorough "flush," anti-sporulant sanitizing of all equipment, storages, etc., can be made. This also includes the dumping of all potatoes on the farm.

The biggest fear, however, is not for a contaminated farm, but the commercial potato farms to which BRR seed may have been sold.

In addition, legal counsel requests the Canadian Food Inspection Agency turn over all its records relating to the BRR investigation and inspection records for potatoes shipped from the farm in question or from other farms in Alberta that may be related.

Disclosure and access is sought for all records of shipments to the United States for the years 2002 and 2003. In addition, disclosure of the number of shipments made to the United States is also sought.

Also requested are all records indicating the specific locations in the United States where the seed potatoes were shipped for the two years and any and all communications under taken by CFIA employees with any third parties.

Records are also sought in relation to investigations, deliberations, decisions, and analyses under taken by CFIA staff with respect to BRR at other farms in Alberta for the years 2002 and 2003.

The original letter was sent to Debbie Taylor, coordinator, Access to Information and Privacy of the CFIA in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 12. It also requests that Heenan Blaikie LLP be allowed to examine all records described and to take copies.

The term "record" used in this case refers to all records in the possession of the CFIA, its officers, directors, employees, agents, or consultants, including all files, notes, electronic mails, electronic records, tape recordings, compact discs, papers, memoranda, photographs, letters, post-its, declarations, directives, minutes and any other means of storing data, communications of thoughts with respect to shipments of seed potatoes exported from the Alberta farm to the United States for both years.

CFIA is given 30 days to respond and deliver the records or give reasons of refusal and the possible applicable act on which the refusal is based.