Japan blocks imports of Idaho potatoes
Japan blocks imports of Idaho potatoes: The Japanese government
suspended imports of raw Idaho potatoes indefinitely,
effective April 21, in response to the detection of worms,
called potato cyst nematode, in local Idaho production,
an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry
and Fisheries' Consumer Safety and Plant Quarantine Division
said April 24.
"We decided to ban imports indefinitely
because of the worms," the official said, explaining
that it was the first time that the worms were found
in U.S.-grown potatoes and that the worms affect the
growth of potatoes.
The worms do not affect humans, he
said. Japan lifted the import ban on raw potatoes in
February and the United States was the first major supplier,
exporting 431 tons through April 21, the official said.
The U.S. potatoes, which were all from Idaho, were to
be processed into potato chips in Japan, he said, adding
that had it not been for the worms, imports of Idaho
potatoes would have grown substantially, particularly
since they were to be distributed in Japan while local
Japanese production is out of season. Japan imported
about 700,000 tons of processed potatoes, such as in
cooked and frozen form, from the United States in 2005,
the official said.