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Rhizomania Disease

Volume 81: debated on Monday 24 June 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further action he intends to take to prevent the risk of rhizomania disease becoming established in the United Kingdom.

My right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales intend shortly to make a statutory order requiring all imports of seed potatoes to come from areas free from rhizomania. The disease attacks only beet plants but we need to avoid any possibility of its being carried by infected soil attached to imported seed potatoes. This new measure, which will come into operation in the autumn before the seed potato trade begins, represents an additional step in our defences against rhizomania.I am pleased to say that the Dutch authorities have, in view of the United Kingdom's freedom from rhizomania, established a set of special arrangements to ensure that all exports of seed potatoes to the United Kingdom from the Netherlands come from land free from rhizomania. This voluntary arrangement will greatly assist the effective operation of the proposed order and will, in the meantime, enable contracts to be made for the coming season's trade in the knowledge that they will not run counter to the safeguards against rhizomania. I am also considering the possibility of measures to ensure that used agricultural machinery imported into the United Kingdom is free from any risk of rhizomania-infected soil.