Proposed plant regulations and what to do about it

lou jost
Mon, 27 Jul 2009 12:36:54 PDT
Hi All,
  I read the Nature Conservancy paper, and if anything it understates the problem of invasive plants and alien pests and diseases. To call them "eco-nazis" is inaccurate and unhelpful. The paper treats two separate issues, invasive plants and introduced pests and diseases. The proposed regulations deal only with the first problem. I think Mike's summary is reasonable, but there may well be some species with a history of invasive behavior that should legitimately be banned even in small lots of seeds. Think Oxalis. I could spend hours every day cleaning Oxalis out of my pots and they would still return. They must have started from only a few seeds. Some plants do deserve to be banned. The impact on our hobby would be minute, since so many things are in cultivation. As Adam said, the devil is in the details, and much depends on the criterion used to designate "plants in cultivation". It would be better for us to engage authorities in a positive discussion
 of these kinds of details, rather than calling them eco-nazis and telling them to leave us alone. 

I think a much bigger problem than potentially invasive plants is introduction of aline pests ands diseases. The destruction these have caused is beyond the imagination of most people (especialy since people don't live long enough to see the changes these have caused). The loss of the chestnut tree was catastrophic. The loss of elms changed the urban landscape and living conditions for millions (I was just old enough to remember their disappearance in my grandmother's neighborhood in Wisconsin, and how the sidewalks and roads and houses baked in the summer heat without their soothing shade). The loss of the eastern hemlock, now in progress, leaves mesic old-growth northeastern forests without their most important tree. The loss of our ash trees, just beginnning, leaves yet another hole in the ecosystem (and increases the likelihood that invasives will find unfilled niches). These are enormous biological and cultural and economic  losses. How can people
 who truly love plants complain about the intent of regulations designed to reduce the likelihood of future catastrophes like these?

I could be wrong, but I assume that most or all of us who grow plants really do love plants, and not just those in our gardens. If we are objective about it, the impacts I have just described are far greater than the tiny impact that regulations would have on our hobby.  

Rather than reacting against what seem to me to be good intentions by regulators and environmentalists, we should be proactively proposing things that make sense and that will work, as Mike is trying to do. I think importations of plants should be more tightly controlled, but in a sensible way. Personally, I think seed exchanges are a very safe way to spread interesting plants around, and I would feel even better about it if APHIS dipped all entering seed in a solution of weak chlorine of the kind used to sterilze orchid seeds before flasking them. I do that with seed I send or receive. It's good insurance for both parties. 

I see that some posters are nursery professionals. Wouldn't stricter regulation of international trade help US nurseries maintain a competitive edge in the domestic market?

I hope the people in the PBS will support reasonable regulations. It is good for the plants we love. 



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