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WALES: Bates supports urgent statement on potato disease

November 13, 2003 12:00 AM

Mick Bates AMMick Bates AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat countryside spokesperson, today backed calls for an urgent statement by Carwyn Jones on what the Labour Assembly Government is going to do about the threat of 'ring rot' to Welsh agriculture.

He said: 'Once again I am forced to ask how any disease of this type could have been allowed into the UK, considering the Government's assurances following the foot and mouth outbreak; the Labour Government must re-double its surveillance on the import of meat and agricultural resources to prevent foreign diseases effecting Welsh domestic agriculture'.

Two years after the elimination of foot & mouth a serious plant disease has been identified on the farm of a large-scale seed potato producer near Brecon. Ring rot is a virulent bacterial infection of potatoes which has in the past been responsible for the loss if 50% of the crop in the USA. This is the first time it has been identified in the UK and it has no implications for human health.

'My colleague Kirsty Williams is right to call for an urgent statement by the Minister', said Mr Bates,' It is vital at this stage that the spread of infection is minimised - the economic consequences of an outbreak of this disease could have a devastating effect on the potato industry '.