Importing Bulbs and Seeds

Deborah Jordan
Mon, 26 Jan 2009 14:53:27 PST
To All-
As far as Debbie goes--I haven't traded seeds with anyone internationally in 
quite sometime. So if you wish to send federal agents to my house, WDA, 
that's your choice--but they are going to be wasting their time. I too am a 
state employee in the service of the taxpayer.

I am also, however, a PBS member who does pay their dues on time (and has 
for some time) and always pays for their BX's promptly. Since I'm to be the 
subject of pure blasting for simply stating the obvious--I shall refrain 
from posting on the forum in the future. I never meant to cause such a 
"firestorm" and it definitely won't happen again.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ellen Hornig" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 11:00 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Importing Bulbs and Seeds

> Diane - it was an APHIS inspector who told me that about Czech phytos (a
> voice on the phone) - I have no independent information.  It was a 
> response
> to my question about why plants coming in with a valid phyto needed to be
> reinspected.
> At the risk of exhausting my welcome, I want to make some (ultimately)
> positive remarks about this question of regulating and inspecting plant
> imports.  I do have to say, first, that it appears the system doesn't
> function too well.  Incoming legal plant material appears to be going
> largely uninspected, despite the apparent fact that foreign export
> regulation (issuing of phytos) is at best an uneven process.  Incoming
> illegal imports probably largely go undetected, because the first line of
> defense - identifying a package that needs inspection - presumably depends
> on the US postal and Customs services doing their jobs with greater zeal
> than, say, Debbie's informant says they do.  And if incoming illegal 
> imports
> all became legal via the following of existing regulations (remember, 
> import
> permits are free, though phytos usually are not), the system would be even
> more overwhelmed than it is.
> One tactic, which seems to be the currently preferred one, is to threaten
> people with large fines if they get caught.  My previous life as an
> economist leads me to observe that the expected cost of smuggling is
> measured by multiplying the probability of getting caught by the fine 
> levied
> if one is caught.  Playing with some arbitrary numbers here, if the
> probability of getting caught is as high as 1%  (I'm guessing it's much
> lower) and the expected fine is $2000, the expected penalty for smuggling 
> is
> (.01)(2000) = $20, which renders the smuggling of a single plant 
> borderline
> not-worthwhile - but if the probability of getting caught is 0.1%, the
> expected cost is only $2 (versus whatever the perceived value of the
> smuggled material is).  A very high fine (say, $250,000) should definitely
> discourage small-time smuggling, but only if people know with certainty 
> that
> it will be levied if they're caught - and from what I hear from the
> grapevine, penalties generally levied on individuals are much lower than
> that.  The only people who are discouraged from smuggling by POSSIBLE high
> fines are the same types who won't fly, viz, people who are so terrified 
> by
> the low-probability high-cost outcome that they don't look beyond that to
> see that the activity is (alas in the case of plants) relatively safe.
> The bottom line is that a positive, energetic, informative public 
> education
> campaign is about your only rational line of defense when you're woefuly
> underfunded and understaffed.  It's far more likely to get the attention 
> of
> a rational individual than is threatening them with high fines - it 
> appeals
> to their better natures, it's cheap, and it makes clear for them why what
> they're doing is wrong.
> And them's my thoughts this fine morning, and there I will end it.
> Ellen
> Ellen Hornig
> Seneca Hill Perennials
> 3712 County Route 57
> Oswego NY 13126 USA
> ----- Original Message ----- 
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