The Prince Edward Island Potato Board is calling on the federal government to listen to the findings from an international panel of experts who conducted research into potato wart on the Island and compiled a report, a Jan. 23 news release said. The report was presented to industry and government officials on Jan. 16.
“The P.E.I. potato industry believes that Ottawa must accept the findings of the expert report it commissioned and start work immediately, in collaboration with the province and industry, to lift unnecessary restrictions on farms with no connection to potato wart and implement science based recommendations to contain and eventually eradicate the pest,” John Visser, chair of the P.E.I. Potato Board, said in the release.
The panel was put together by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in 2022 following the 2021 potato wart detections in P.E.I. The panel was comprised of world-renowned potato wart experts from Germany, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and New Zealand, the release said.
They travelled to P.E.I. in August 2022 where they attended information sessions, making site visits to seed, table and processing potato farms, and visiting the CFIA testing lab and local processing facilities. The release noted the final report provides recommendations on the use of international standards to maintain the pest-free status, and recommendations to improve the management of regulated fields and outlined areas for future research.
The release said the P.E.I. potato industry is pleased with the thoroughness of the panel report and the panel’s key findings that, “Given the limited presence of the pathogen, the IAP considers most parts of P.E.I. outside the Regulated Fields as a PFA (pest free area) for S. Endobioticum.” The report also confirmed that the general and specific surveillance activities on P.E.I. since 2000, meet international standards to support the pest free recognition.
The report concluded that although there is a low level of potato wart infested fields on P.E.I. (less than 0.6 per cent of the potato land over the 22 years since the first detection), P.E.I. may continue to be described as a location where the pest, Synchitrium endobiotiucm, is “Present, not widely distributed, and under official control” as per International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures 8, the release said.
The release noted the industry is eager to get to work with federal officials to develop the plan forward for P.E.I. farmers. The industry calls on the government to act in an efficient, timely and transparent manner for the good of P.E.I. and the good of the Canadian agricultural sector, the release said.