Bacterial Ring Rot Suit Ties Up

Final arguments were recently presented at the Alberta Provincial Court in Lethbridge in the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) lawsuit against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The purpose of PGA’s lawsuit was to stop CFIA from releasing documents to the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) relating to bacterial ring rot (BRR) investigations of Alberta seed potato farms. PGA claims public interest immunity applies to all CFIA documents and protects the country from damage to national security and international relations caused by the disclosure of state secrets.

WSPC legal counsel countered that bacterial ring rot investigation evidence is not a state secret and would not damage Canadian national security and international relations.

“WSPC requested the records to provide Washington state potato growers with objective information about the extent of BRR in Alberta, so they could make informed purchasing decisions concerning seed potatoes from there,” said Pat Boss, WSPC executive director.

One Washington potato grower currently has a suit filed against a Canadian seed supplier because of bacterial ring rot infestation in this year’s crop.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge indicated he would be providing a written decision on the application in the immediate future.

Originally posted Monday, Oct. 18, 2004