CFIA: No More Potato Wart in P.E.I.

Published online: Jan 03, 2022 Articles
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Source: CBC

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has released the results of its potato wart survey, and no cases have been detected anywhere in the country.

The soil samples were collected this fall from areas that grow seed potatoes, including P.E.I., but excluding Newfoundland and Labrador. The CFIA said the results show potatoes from fields without quarantine plans are safe and pose no threat.

"The purpose of the survey was to provide reassurances to Canadian producers and international trading partners that potato wart had not spread outside of the regulated area of P.E.I.," said CFIA media relations in an email Friday.

Two cases of the fungus were detected in P.E.I. fields in October, eventually leading to Canada halting all exports of P.E.I. potatoes to the U.S., a move that has been criticized by P.E.I.'s premier and farmers alike. 

Results as expected, says potato board

P.E.I. Potato Board general manager Greg Donald said the results are good news, though not a surprise.

"Those are the results that we fully expected because we've been exporting seed and fresh potatoes across Canada and all over the world for over 20 years," he said. "There hasn't been any spread from P.E.I. and actually from the restricted fields." 

He said this is proof the management plan to isolate and contain the fungus is working.

"This should give reassurance to the U.S. and other trading partners that our potatoes are safe," he said.

The CFIA said the results have been sent to the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and that based on the science and measures in place, the risks of potato wart being transmitted from fresh potatoes "remain negligible." 

It also said though it does not predict these results will spur immediate changes, the survey science was something the U.S. had specifically requested.

"This was an important first step," the agency said. "The U.S. still requires the results of the investigations linked to the 2021 detections of potato wart. "

Donald said he remains optimistic the survey results will positively influence talks with the U.S., which are scheduled to resume in January.