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Canada Temporarily Suspends Potato Shipments from Idaho

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has implemented a temporary prohibition on the import of all potatoes and soil from Idaho due to the detection of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). The prohibition is a science-based interim measure that will be reviewed as new information becomes available, according to CFIA.

The temporary prohibition covers all potatoes (seed, table and processing) and soil from the state of Idaho. Other potential pathways that could introduce the pest to Canada are being reviewed. That includes the cancellation of existing permits allowing the import of these affected products into Canada. It’s a regionalized, risk-management approach that is consistent with international standards.

The PCN does not pose a risk to human health but can significantly affect the yields of potatoes and other host crops, such as tomatoes and eggplants. The pest infests the soil where these crops are grown and has been known to reduce yields by up to 80 percent, according to CFIA.

The PCN is a quarantine pest in Canada and the United States. The scientific name of the species of PCN pest detected in Idaho is Globodera pallida, commonly known as Pale Cyst Nematode. In Canada, this species is found in limited areas of Newfoundland and strict quarantine measures are in place to prevent its spread. This is the first finding of this pest in the United States, according to CFIA.

In the past, a closely related pest, Golden Nematode (Globodera rostochiensis), has been found in New York, Newfoundland and Vancouver Island, and both Canada and the United States have strict quarantine restrictions in place for affected products from these areas. Additional information on both of these species is available on the CFIA Web site (http://www.inspection.gc.ca).

“We recognize the significance of this detection to the U.S. and its trading partners and will continue to work closely with them on this issue,” according to the CFIA press release. “A delegation from the CFIA will be going to Idaho to participate in the review of the situation and gather technical information.”

The latest information will be posted to the CFIA Web site as it becomes available.

Originally posted Friday, Apr. 21, 2006

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