NFU Scotland is urging the public to only buy seeds and plants from a trusted supplier and asks anyone who receives unsolicited parcels of plant seeds through the post to report it and not to plant them.
In recent days, the press has reported that members of the public in the UK have been receiving unsolicited parcels, allegedly from China, that contain seeds. Similar incidents have been widely reported in North America.
The official advice from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is that if you have received seeds by post that you didn’t order please email details to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not plant or compost the seeds as it is possible they could be carrying plant pests or diseases that are a risk to homegrown crops or the environment.
APHA are conducting tests on seed samples and are also investigating the possibility of this being a “brushing scam” – where people receive low value unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.
The items enter the country under the guise of being something else. Some seeds have been recorded in packages suggesting the contents are jewellery and, as a result, they are not declared as seeds and do not go through the vital plant health and customs checks that would normally apply to imported plant material.
NFU Scotland’s Horticultural Chair, James Porter
Scotland has an enviable reputation for producing high health, hardy plants – whether that be trees, nursery stock, cereals, oilseeds, soft fruit, bulbs, vegetables or potatoes.
The arrival of seeds of unknown quality or health places that at risk and I urge anyone who receives these unsolicited parcels to notify APHA.
Putting these seeds in the ground or into compost bins risks introducing new disease threats and invasive species that could threaten the many healthy plants and species we grow here.
There have been lots of reports in the media of people receiving packets of seeds in Scotland and across the UK. The seeds are being reported as scams at the lower level and a threat to biosecurity at a higher level. If you have received seeds by post that you have not ordered, do not plant or compost the seeds, put them in a secure container and contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency via email email@example.com.