Watch out for seedy biosecurity risks

11th August 2020 | Eativity editors

All Australians are being reminded of the importance of being biosecurity aware, following cases of unsolicited seed packets being received through the mail. The Department of Agriculture’s head of biosecurity operations, Emily Canning, says imported seeds must adhere to strict biosecurity conditions that help manage pest and disease risks.

“The department is aware of the cases overseas and we have had a small number of reports in Australia that are under investigation,” she says.

“It’s an important reminder that we all need to do our part to safeguard Australia from biosecurity pests and diseases. This includes reporting potential biosecurity breaches and following the correct process if you are purchasing seeds from overseas.”

Saving seeds is a great way to ensure you’ll always have fresh food. But only buy from trusted sources.

If you do receive seeds in the mail that you didn’t order, Canning stresses that you should not plant the seeds or throw them in the garbage bin. Instead, secure the seeds and immediately report it to the Department of Agriculture.

“Imported seeds that do not meet biosecurity conditions can threaten our environment, agricultural industries and even backyard gardens,” Canning says. “They could also be carrying invasive species or harmful plant diseases. This is why we have strict conditions for the import of seeds, to help manage these serious biosecurity threats.”

At international mail centres, detector dogs, X-rays and biosecurity officers are in place to intercept any potentially risky items that arrive.

“We do regularly intercept seed packets from overseas that are mis-declared as jewellery, gifts, earrings and garden tools,” Canning says. “These items are either exported back to the sender or destroyed, to ensure they do not harm Australia’s agriculture or environment.

We can all play a role in supporting our biosecurity and help keep Australia free of pests and diseases – it’s essential for the protection of our agricultural industry. So be biosecurity aware, and report any breaches by going to awe.gov.au/report or calling 1800 798 636.

If you are considering purchasing seeds from overseas, make sure you check if those seeds are permitted and if there are any import conditions. Head here for more info.  

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