Need for phtoanitary certificate

Adam Fikso
Fri, 07 Apr 2006 10:06:39 PDT
Hello all:  This is relevant if not quite on topic and addressed to anyone who hopes to receive seeds from abroad.  Currently the old rule requiring a phytosanitary certificate for all plant material INCLUDING SEEDS which was not often enforced is now being enforced rather harshly.  I belong to other plant groups, and the Arisaema Enthusiast Group (AEG) recently posted a number of eMails from people who had gotten notices from customs offices with envelopes stating that the seeds they had expected had been confiscated and destroyed. In one case these were all from a university-affiliated botanical garden (University of Utrecht), and the label may have alerted authorities to the contents.  Other folks have had seed shipments come through.

The matter has been under discussion for some months in many quartersand at many levels, and there have been attempts to get the USDA and other relevant authorities to be more lenient, work out a reasonable compromise, argue that this restrains free trade in an unreasonable manner, etc., but so far no agreement has been worked out.

I have learned from Jim Shields whom many of you know,(and quoting from one of his eMails)--  that "negotiations are under way by a group of interested parties--initiated by the North American Rock Garden Society--to modify the rules somewhat.  Those potential modifications have not yet been put into effect.  Contact Joyce Fingerut , International Horticulture Seed Exchange Advocacy (IHSEA) liaison to USDA.  There are currently over 35 US and overseas plant groups associated with IHSEA..."

I have been lucky so far, but at least one of our members who distributes seeds via eBay needs to take notice,as do  any of us who buy seeds from abroad on eBay, and do the necessary homework if we want to continue receiving seeds from abroad without tisk of their destruction.    A few species are so rare and endangered  on world lists that destruction of them seems unnecessarily harsh and unwarranted. (oncocyclus species)  They could be returned to the sender for not much more effort than that undertaken in their destruction. 

Get involved with your government on this issue or deal only with foreign exporters who normally ship with a phytosanitary certificate (routine for bulbs as defined by the USDA to include tubers, rhizomes,corms, other underground root parts as specified.)

Meanwhile until something gets worked out , the risk for seeds is as noted above.  Confiscation and destruction of your shipment, probably a notation beside your name on some kind of watch list, especially if you get seeds from a middle-eastern country. Adam Fikso USDA Zone 5a in Glenview, IL


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