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Flavour Of Potatoes (Fertilisers And Insecticides)

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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5.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what research has been made into the effect of chemical fertilisers and insecticides on the flavour of potatoes.

Tests have been carried out at the Rothamsted Experimental Station into the effect of chemical fertilisers on the cooking quality and flavour of potatoes. Research has also been carried out by leading firms into the effect of certain soil insecticides on the flavour of potatoes, and the need for additional work is being considered.

Is not evidence piling up that, with the increasing use of chemicals for all kinds of agricultural purposes, vegetables do not taste as good as they used to taste? Does the Minister agree with the National Federation of Fish Fryers who pointed out at a recent conference that fried fish and mothballs are a most unpalatable combination?

That is why inquiries are being initiated under the auspices of the Agricultural Improvement Council into the tainting of vegetables generally. It may interest the House to know that there is no evidence of any danger to human health resulting from the normal application of fertilisers

Will my hon. Friend inquire into the possibility that the smell of mothballs, which is complained of may come from the fish rather than the potatoes? If it prove to be the case that both Fisheries and Agriculture are implicated, may not there then be a strong presumption that there are moths in the Ministry?

14.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the inconvenience caused to the suppliers and consumers of fish and chips by reason of the fact that chips made from potatoes from land treated with chemicals for pest destruction tend to taste and smell of mothballs; and to what extent remedial action by means of research or otherwise is contemplated by his Department.

I am aware of complaints of taint in potatoes. The Agricultural Improvement Council has recently appointed a sub-committee to consider the question of tainting in vegetables, generally from the use of chemicals applied to the soil.

In view of the fact that a large number of people complained and that the National Federation of Fish Fryers considered this matter in consequence, would the Minister see that the matter is dealt with fairly speedily, especially as there are so many people who consume this kind of food?

Yes, Sir, that is the reason why this sub-committee has been set up. It will advise me on the nature and extent of the problem and what action I can take by way of further research or in other ways.

Will my right hon. Friend say if any research has been carried out so far into the effects of the use of various fertilisers on unregistered "pairs"?

Could not the right hon. Gentleman have given a more suitable reply in the monosyllable which will be found at the end of the two syllable word in the eighth line of the Question?

Could not the public help in this matter by returning the smelly potatoes to their greengrocer for replacement?