§ 9. Dr. Stuttaford
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to prevent the distribution and sale of potatoes affected by potato blight.
§ Mr. Anthony Stodart
Blighted potatoes would not meet the quality standards laid down by the Potato Marketing Board, and so could not be offered for sale by farmers or merchants. This year's crop is, in fact, almost entirely free from blight.
§ Dr. Stuttaford
Does my hon. Friend agree that there is suspicion that there may be a link between the consumption of blighted potatoes and incidence of spina bifida? Will he reassure us today that we will not be able to obtain blighted potatoes in shops?
§ Mr. Stodart
I am aware of the suggestion that there is a link with the disease mentioned. I am also aware that an article in the Lancet on 3rd February by Edinburgh University geneticists said quite emphatically that there was no link with blighted potatoes. Certainly it is most unlikely that they will be obtainable this year in the shops—first because the crop is almost entirely free from blight and secondly because the standards of the Potato Marketing Board have been substantially raised this season.