One of my modest claims to fame is that I successfully negotiated with the former publisher of the Guardian back in 2001, 20 years ago, for  FULL opinion page rights for an expose on the Potato Wart crisis, with the following conditions: (1) no advertisements; (2) plug on the front page for my editorial in support; and (3) $200. [I wanted to be able to say the Guardian thought my opinion was worth more than the proverbial “2 cents”.   

Everything I requested was granted.


The lockdown of the Canada-US border back in 2000 happened as a result of a report of a “Quarantinable” pest [Potato Wart] BY A CANADIAN SCIENTIST, giving the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] the legal ability to shut down all potato trade with PEI, on the basis a sample in the corner of one field near Cavendish Farms. It was a cruel joke back in 2000-2001. It’s an even crueler joke today!

It was entirely predictable. 

Like the elusive hunt for sick people who don’t know they’re sick because they don’t have any symptoms of disease [what used to define ‘sickness’] the testing was ramped up recently by, again, OUR OWN SCIENTISTS:

“In 2015, the US put in place a Federal Order that outlines specific mitigation measures required for the movement of table stock, bulk, unwashed and seed potatoes from PEI to the US. Since then, import requirements for seed potatoes include mandatory soil testing within one year of harvest. The mitigation measures for table stock potatoes grown from a field where potato wart is not known to occur include brushing and washing to remove any soil, packing in containers of 50 lbs or less, and phytosanitary inspection and certification. In 2021, the CFIA enhanced its National surveillance program with additional soil samples taken in every seed potato-producing region of Canada.” [See: “Potato Wart in PEI,” CFIA, Fall 2021] 


Why would CFIA officials suddenly decide to do “enhanced testing” on Potato Wart when such wasn’t required by the USDA? 

It’s called: “going looking for trouble!”  Just like 20 years ago – it has been CFIA scientists who are doing the work of saboteurs against Canadian farmers!

As my research pointed out in 2000 – the USDA never reported their outbreaks of Potato Wart to Canada, or decided to do “enhanced” testing to see if they could find a sample, so they could then shut down the trade of their own farmers!

The USDA had the Canadian government happy to bend over backwards and jump as high as they wanted in 2000-2001.  Neither our scientists nor politicians ever challenged the USDA’s brazen assertion  – completely false – that was made with regular, increasingly-bold pronouncement, e.g., “that the USDA had “eradicated” Potato Wart.

It hadn’t. 

Potato Wart is IMPOSSIBLE to eradicate. It needs to be REGULATED, but hey, these Health bureaucrats  – whether it’s covid-19 or Potato Wart – know that fearful pronouncements about invisible viruses are the easiest possible way to get away with bloody murder when it comes to the manipulation of the economy and interrupting trade on a massive scale for no real health threat, but as a means of effectively implementing a non-tariff trade barrier. 

There’s a VERY long list of examples of exactly this thing happening over the past few decades. With PEI, the tools have been PVYn, and Potato Wart. 

Until such time as Potato Wart is taken off the list of such manipulated plant pests and regulated in a commonsense way, PEI potato farmers will continue to be the victims of corruption in potato plant health politics. 

The research I put together for Island farmers affected by Potato Wart back in 2000-01 was sent to every Canadian House of Commons member of Parliament in Ottawa; every Canadian Senator;  and every member of the USDA about a week before the following article was published in the Guardian on August 21.   

A lot happened in the course of that week. In fact a deal was struck and the Guardian published both news of that deal on the front page of the same edition as my article. 

I couldn’t find an electronic version of the article, but given the relevance of the issue, I went hunting in boxes in the closet and did find an old paper version. I scanned it in several sections, to keep the print large enough to read, then stitched them together.