Tuber terrorists: Canada’s Mounties hunt ‘evil cowards’ spiking eco-potatoes with pins and needles

A farmer sprays a potato field in Park Corner, Prince Edward Island (Reuters / Shaun Best)
Potato fields in Canada's Prince Edward Island have been targeted by food terrorists who’ve found ways to put sharp objects into tubers grown there. Desperate farmers are offering a half-million Canadian dollars (US$400,000) reward to catch the culprits.

From early June, over a dozen cases of metal objects found in potatoes were reported in the stores of four Canadian provinces. The incidents began last October and ever since the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, or Mounties) have been investigating the case.

Needless to say, the scandal with pins and needles been found in potatoes grown on the Prince Edward Island (PEI) in the Gulf of St Lawrence has hit the billion worth potato industry of the region in a terrifying way.

“It’s food terrorism,” said chairman of the PEI Potato Board Alex Docherty, as cited by The Guardian. “The people doing this are cowards, lower than a snake wearing snowshoes. These are really evil people.”

The initial reward for information that would lead to a conviction was CAN$50,000. In December it was CAN$100,000 in December.

“Farm families all over the world work so hard to produce food and to have something like this happen is really disheartening,” said Docherty, the potato farmer. “We want the cowards caught and dealt with to the full extent of the law.”

On June 29, desperate farmers of the PEI raised the reward to trace the saboteurs to CAN$500,000.

“We like to think we grow some of the best potatoes in the world in this little place, and we’re not going to let this hurt our reputation,” said Greg Donald, general manager of the PEI Potato Board, the farmers’ group that offered the reward.

So far, the only way to keep metal items from potatoes is believed to be metal detectors that farmers have to equip their operations with.

“Everyone’s goal is to maintain consumer confidence in our world-class potato product,” federal minister Gail Shea said, as Canadian politicians offered $2mln to help PEI farmers and processors to keep their potato metal-free.

Out of the PEI’s total 250 farms, some 40 have already installed metal detectors worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s tough to see the opportunity now, but flipping the coin we’re going to have the safest potatoes in the world,” Donald said.

The Mounties are not sitting idle, but there are no concrete results in the potato manhunt so far.

“We have received tips, but we would like to receive more," CBC News cited Sgt. Leanne Butler as saying.

The farmers have not complained so far about the progress of the police investigation.

“The RCMP doesn’t tell me how to grow potatoes so I don’t tell them how to do their investigation,” Docherty said.