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buying seeds from abroad

Heirloom and Heritage Vegetable seeds are strictly for private use and not for commercial food production. By their very nature you may get the occasional variant plant.

BUY 2 OF THE SAME ITEM, GET A 3RD PACKET OF IT FOR FREE

We are one of the few seed companies in the world who still grow and produce many of our own seeds. We supply numerous seed companies, trade customers and nurseries worldwide. We believe all seeds are correctly named. As these are sometimes open pollinated, occasional variations may occur and we cannot be held responsible other than for replacement of seeds.

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We are unable to provide Phytosanitary Certificates or other declarations. There may be problems importing seeds to your country due to this and other possible restrictions. Please will you check with your authorities regarding these restrictions BEFORE placing an order. We do not assume any responsibility if Customs or similar agencies confiscate seeds. However, any complete orders that may be returned to us in those cases will be refunded.

OVER 3500 SEED VARIETIES SOLD!

For US customers – We advise you apply for a Small Seed Permit (PPQ 587 – Permit to Import Plants and Plant Products) before ordering. This is a link to the US government’s page that might be helpful, as well as the mailing process and shipping label requirements:

IN BUSINESS OVER 30 YEARS

China is also looking for answers since “most” of the packages, which also popped up in Canada and the U.K., bore postmarks from there. China’s Foreign Ministry determined over the summer that the mailing labels the country’s investigators had reviewed were forgeries.

The policy change, instated on Sept. 3, comes after “thousands” of seed packets were delivered to U.S. mailboxes over the summer, with many postmarked from China. The report notes that it is believed the mystery mailings are part of a “brushing” scam, which aims to artificially inflate a seller’s visibility on algorithm-driven ecommerce websites like Amazon.

The site’s “plant and seed products” rules page for sellers does indeed note that seeds imported from outside the U.S. are no prohibited, along with those sold by non-U.S. residents.

The USDA has reportedly received close to 20,000 reports of these shipments, and has collected roughly half of them. Agriculture imports are monitored all around the world because new arrivals from abroad could threaten local ecosystems. That’s why there’s extra emphasis on declaring fruits and vegetables when you’re traveling between countries.

Amazon has a new rule in place governing seed and plant imports for U.S. customers: Nope.

Case in point: The USDA’s investigation of the mystery packages turned up a number of “noxious” weeds (dodder and water spinach). The investigation also turned up a number of diseases and pests. Those findings “haven’t sparked significant concern,” according to the USDA, but the investigation continues. The real goal of the mailings appears to be the aforementioned brushing scam.

The only catch to that concerns non-U.S. residents: If you sell seeds or plants outside the U.S., you can’t come into the country just to sell them inside the country. It might be a trickier thing for Amazon to police, but it’s the rule all the same.

We contacted ADAS (the Agricultural Consultancy) who explained that a meeting had been organised by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) and the seeds industry in October 2014, in a bid to stop trade in this potentially diseased material. It was advised that the industry should forward any sellers’ names on to FERA.

‘We are aware of concerns around the online selling of seed from outside the European Union which does not comply with our legislation for quality and plant health. An APHA working group, including UK seed companies, has been created to discuss how best to address this issue.’

In total, 20 eBay sellers and six Amazon sellers from the Far East were reported in the week following the FERA meeting, but it seems that there are still some sellers who are getting through the net.

Buying seeds online

We have now sent the suspect seeds, and the sellers’ details on to the Animal and Plant Health Agency who will test them to see if they are carrying any disease. A spokesperson from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) told us:

We placed an order, but were perplexed when the seeds arrived, as they had a Chinese postmark and a false CN22 Customs declaration, listing them as gifts.

We were first alerted to the problem when we spotted some unusual black and blue strawberry seeds for sale on Amazon. We’re always keen to try something new, and unusually coloured strawberries are just too tempting! While the bright blue strawberries seem highly unlikely we have recently heard rumours of the potential existence of a black strawberry, but haven’t seen them for ourselves just yet.

Members of the public have been urged to be aware when buying seeds online. Some retailers on eBay and Amazon have been selling potentially diseased seeds that could have a major impact on UK biodiversity.