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USDA Restricts Potato Imports from Quebec

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced that it is prohibiting the entry of potatoes and other products from the province of Quebec due to the detection of the golden nematode (GN), a serious pest of potatoes that does not pose a threat to human health.

“In the coming weeks, we will work closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to analyze survey data and other information and will further regionalize our restrictions, if appropriate, based on the latest scientific evidence and in accordance with international guidelines,” said APHIS Administrator W. Ron DeHaven.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency yesterday confirmed the presence of the pest in a 30-acre field on a farm east of Montreal, Quebec. Although the GN does not pose a risk to human health, it is considered to be potentially more dangerous to potato crops than other potato pests. GN can significantly affect the yields of potatoes and other host crops.

To prevent the spread of the nematode to the United States , agriculture officials here are prohibiting potatoes for seed, consumption and processing from the Province of Quebec and requiring that other restricted articles from Quebec be free from soil. Mechanical cultivating equipment, harvesting equipment and other conveyances that present a risk of spreading the nematode must also be free of soil. Potato products that are already processed in Quebec prior to export will not be affected by these restrictions.

GN was first discovered in the United States in 1941 on Long Island, N.Y. Because of an effective state and federal quarantine, which has been in existence for more than 50 years, the pest has been confined to 9 counties in the state of New York.

Once the pest is established, potato production is impractical – except in long crop rotations or when planting GN-resistant potato varieties. Potatoes and tomatoes are the principal crops of economic importance that are attacked by this pest. The nematode also reproduces on the roots of eggplant and on some wild solanaceous weeds.

Canada and the United States have imposed domestic and foreign quarantine restrictions to prevent the spread of GN from known infested areas to uninfested areas within their borders. The two countries have also imposed restrictions to prevent introductions from areas known to be infested outside of their borders.

Originally posted Friday, Aug. 18, 2006

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