The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has finished its investigation of the two 2021 potato wart detections in Prince Edward Island earlier than expected, an Aug. 18 news release said. The investigation was projected originally to be completed by September 2023.
Throughout the investigation, the CFIA collected and analyzed nearly 50,000 soil samples from fields in P.E.I. associated with recent detections. There was potato wart identified in four additional fields which is expected in investigations of this scale, the CFIA noted.
Whenever potato wart is detected, land controls are put in place on individual fields to restrict the movement of potatoes, plants, soil, and other articles that could result in the spread of potato wart, the release said. The CFIA plans to continue surveillance activities in P.E.I. throughout the fall, including selected fields not previously associated with potato wart.
In a separate news release the Canadian Potato Council (CPC) stated its pleasure that the investigation had been completed.
“I would like to thank CFIA for their ongoing efforts to efficiently collect and process the high volume of soil samples over the past 20 months,” Bill Zylmans, CPC chair said in the release.
The CPC release noted there was a 0.008 per cent incidence discovery of potato wart during the investigation with results indicating limited incidence in fields growing potatoes destined for the on-Island processing market. CPC noted the recent detections are within a distance of 12 km of each other and continue to be monitored and regulated under CFIA’s Potato Wart Long-Term Management Plan.
The National Potato Council (NPC), who have been vocal throughout the investigation stated in a news release that it welcomed the completion of the investigation believing it’s “an important step in an ongoing obligation to enhanced surveillance of this destructive disease via soil sampling.” The NPC is still concerned though that potatoes are being grown in fields associated with potato wart.
The Ministerial Order, which has been in place since November 2021, remains in effect as the CFIA continues to consult with industry about next steps including enhanced control measures, such as biosecurity and traceability activities, the release said. The plan is for data collected during the investigation and additional surveillance to help inform the development of long term programming to mitigate risk and support the potato sector in P.E.I. and across Canada.
“While investigations of this magnitude are challenging, this investigation was essential for supporting one of Canada’s critical agricultural sectors and for demonstrating to domestic and international trading partners that Canada is committed to helping contain, control, and prevent the spread of potato wart,” the CFIA release said.
The CFIA will continue to work with stakeholders to advance progress on this important program as quickly as possible, the release noted.
“We look forward to working with the federal government to review the long-term management plan this fall as part of our commitment to guide our decisions based on data, science, international standards and best practices,” Zylmans said in the CPC release.