A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) bulletin released in October showing how potato wart could be introduced to the U.S. from Canada focused only on minimal risk mitigation measures, a Nov. 14 news release from the Canadian Potato Council (CPC) said.
The Draft Pathway Analysis is strictly a pathway analysis, the release said. The CPC noted there has been statements made by industry stakeholders which has raised concerns about the movement of Prince Edward Island potatoes.
The release noted that on the first page of the Draft Pathway Analysis, it’s stated that “We did not consider any mitigation measures beyond minimal brushing and washing prior to export and visual inspection at ports of entry.” The CPC said this analysis shows the possible routes of entry of the disease if no preventative actions are taken.
“It is unfortunate that some stakeholder statements have failed to acknowledge that the analysis is conducted under conditions of minimal risk mitigation, or mention the two-step process that USDA-APHIS follows in their stakeholder risk assessment consultations,” the release said.
Land, soil and potatoes in P.E.I. are regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under the Potato Wart Domestic Long Term Management Plan, the release said. This plan outlines the restrictions and surveillance activities for potato wart in order to reduce the risk of spread of potato wart and protect potatoes.
“All of these measures directly mitigate the risk of movement of potato wart, and were not considered in the Draft Pathway Analysis. It is important to understand that potato exports from P.E.I. only occur with strict risk mitigation measures in place to address the pathways of potential entry of potato wart,” the release said.
The release noted extensive soil testing and surveillance for potato wart has been conducted for over 20 years and is ongoing in P.E.I. to monitor for the presence of this disease, and to confirm those areas in P.E.I. that are free of the pest. Soil samples are also taken across Canada in all potato producing provinces to show the absence of potato wart in those areas.
“The Canadian Potato Council is disappointed that some industry stakeholders have not been transparent and open regarding their communication of statements extracted from the Draft Pathway Analysis without context and without disclosure that the analysis did not consider any mitigation measures beyond minimal brushing and washing prior to export. It is our position that potato growers and other sector stakeholders should be provided with accurate and fulsome information, without the exclusion of key information that is required to form meaningful conclusions.” the release said.