Containment rather than eradication is the best way to deal with a potato virus recently found in Canterbury.

Biosecurity New Zealand is working with Potatoes New Zealand to respond to a detection of Potato mop-top virus (PMTV), which affects the variety used to make potato chips.

Biosecurity NZ Incident controller David Yard spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay about the virus, which he says is not a food safety issue.

"Potatoes remain safe to eat," says Yard who points out the crop disease is more of a concern for growers than consumers.


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PMTV is common in a lot of other countries and it can survive in the soil for up to 20 years says Yard. It can cause cracking, foliage discolouration and makes potatoes "unfit for purpose for potato chipping."

Due to the nature of the virus Yard says eradication is "probably going to prove very problematic," and that Biosecurity NZ will work with growers to contain the disease.

Yard says the virus may be spread through soil and stresses the importance of cleaning equipment from farm to farm.

"We don't want, through poor on farm biosecurity, for farmers to spread it."