Virus testing, an arduous process that can take up to three years, may be streamlined to six months, thanks to new DNA technology. On August 15, Canada’s ag minister Lawrence MacAulay announced that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will lead two projects worth $500,000 to reduce quarantine testing time.
According to the news release, the first project will dramatically shorten the testing period of seeds, cuttings and bulbs imported into Canada to grow new varieties of plants. With this funding, scientists will use DNA technology to test for all viruses associated with imported plants to get an early indication of any plant diseases present. This approach could reduce the quarantine testing time by up to two and a half years.
The second project streamlines the testing of strawberry plants. Traditionally, multiple tests for viruses are required before exporting strawberry plants to foreign markets. This project will test for multiple viruses in one single test, dramatically reducing the time and cost to get plants to market. The Canadian strawberry plant industry is currently valued at $17 million.
Funding for these projects is provided through a partnership between the CFIA, Genome British Columbia, Summerland Varieties Corporation, Phyto Diagnostics, the British Columbia Cherry Association, and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).
The 2017 federal budget has already committed to an $80 million investment to replace the Sidney Centre for Plant Health, based in British Columbia with a world-class research centre.
For more background and an interview with Vineland’s Travis Banks, go to The Grower’s August cover story: “Why nectarines are the next big thing.” http://bit.ly/2wcnXMp
SOURCE: Canadian Food Inspection Agency August 15, 2017 news release.