Plant Importation and Lacey Act Provisions

Fri, 10 Oct 2008 14:49:05 PDT
This and similar changes in US and international laws will probably support
a growing shift away from independent parties organizing the importation of
plants and toward a higher degree of organized exportation of plants (cf.
orchids) from countries of origin. In spite of some very real drawbacks for
us, this seems a good way to encourage native flora nurseries to develop in
foreign countries. Allowed to grow properly, this is to everyone's benefit
in the long run.
This process can also gradually raise awareness about the local benefits of
protecting plants and animals and their habitats. Better that they are seen
and appreciated as an emerging specialized commodity than to be destroyed
because their value is never appreciated on any level that affords
protection. On a more selfish note, without such home industry growth there
may be little hope of continuing viable and diverse imports of live plants
and seeds.
Still many questions remain:

*If or how to discern collected legally (wild origin) from obtained/grown
legally in a nursery?

*Who if anyone will retain "ownership" of the material in perpetuity? If
implemented, how does this carry to subsequent "owners" and subsequent
generations of plants?

*So-called benefit sharing-- practical limits and mechanisms here are very
poorly developed or unconsidered for small lots of seeds and plants.
Underlying ethical concepts have been put forth with little serious debate
or counter-argument.

*What provision will be made for these and future changes in law in
countries that barely recognize such trade and have no legal mechanism for
accommodating any process for such minimal demand?

*Can a supplier be certified or will each transaction be a stand alone

Even with ostensible benefits, by facilitating better practices and possibly
clearer rules of operation, there remain many hurdles as difficult or more
challenging than those the laws attempt to remedy in the first place.

With everything going on in global finance today, this dialogue has a
familiar flavor.

Dylan Hannon

On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM, Boyce Tankersley <> wrote:

> Dear All:
> I want to share some information that recently came my way that will
> impact importations of plants into the US.
> A last minute addendum to the Agricultural Appropriations bill passed
> earlier this summer changed the Lacey Act as follows:
> "basically the Agriculture bill which is now law included new language
> which amends the Lacey Act to include "any wild member of the plant
> kingdom, including roots, seeds, parts, and products thereof" and give
> the Secretary of Agriculture 180 days to come up with procedures for
> clearances.
>  For animal specimens, the Lacey Act basically means that it is a felony
> in the USA to import any animals that have been collected illegally
> under any level of law at their point of origin, and the burden of
> proving material is legally collected is on the collector and/or the
> collection in which the material comes to reside.  It is among the most
> pervasive of US laws because of the impact of making foreign law a
> felony. For insects, it is often hard to prove that their export is not
> regulated by particular countries, because often no regulatory office
> has the authority to write a letter saying they don't regulate them, but
> at the same time, they will tell you in person that they don't care
> about insects."
> It appears that we will need a letter from the country of origin in the
> future stating that the plants, seeds, roots, cuttings, etc. that we
> import were collected legally.
> Boyce Tankersley
> Director of Living Plant Documentation
> Chicago Botanic Garden
> 1000 Lake Cook Road
> Glencoe, IL 60022
> tel: 847-835-6841
> fax: 847-835-1635
> email:
> _______________________________________________
> pbs mailing list

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