Online seed sales a blooming problem
Online stores across the globe have made it easier for gardeners to buy a wide variety of exotic seeds.
Unfortunately, many of these seed species pose high biosecurity risks and require import permits and seed testing before entering Australia. The costs incurred in meeting these conditions far exceed the value of the seeds purchased by most gardeners. Even those seeds that are technically permitted often do not meet import conditions as the sellers do not properly label the seeds, or the packages contain contaminants like dirt and plant material. Far from being a cheaper option, gardeners find that their long awaited exotic seed purchases are seized and destroyed by the department.
The work of the department in detecting seed imports at the border is time consuming and expensive, but necessary to protect Australia’s biosecurity. It is for this reason that the department is piloting activities that aim to better inform overseas seed suppliers about Australia’s biosecurity import requirements. The aim of this work is to reduce sales of prohibited and restricted seeds to Australian customers, and to assist suppliers to meet Australian import requirements for permitted seeds.
One of the activities being piloted involves working closely with eBay to address sales of prohibited and restricted seeds to Australian customers. To date this work has included blocking the sale of tomato and capsicum seeds, two species that have very strict import restrictions, from suppliers outside Australia. Data collected by biosecurity officers at international mail gateway facilities has also been used to target specific sellers who repeatedly send consignments of seeds that do not meet import requirements. eBay’s support of the department’s work in this area has been exemplary.
The department is continuing to monitor e-stores and liaise with overseas retailers to inform them about Australia’s biosecurity requirements, as well as looking for opportunities to pilot new and innovative ways of communicating Australia’s biosecurity requirements. If you have an idea about how the department can better communicate with suppliers, let us know at International Mail.
Before ordering seeds or any other plant, food or timber products online, make sure you check the import requirements first to avoid wasting your money and risking Australia’s biosecurity.