Online seed sales cause alarm

Huge explosion of online seed sales could be 'hugely damaging' to UK biodiversity, says Tennucci.

Seeds: Defra urged to educate public on the danger of buying online
Seeds: Defra urged to educate public on the danger of buying online

Defra has been urged to educate the public about the dangers of buying seeds online from sellers from China who have failed to sign a customs declaration form.

Premier Seeds Direct owner Bob Tennucci is campaigning about the "massive explosion of online plant and seed sales", which he said could be "hugely damaging" to UK biodiversity.

He said Defra is onside but has already reported 20 eBay sellers and six on Amazon from the Far East in just a week following the meeting.

Tony Watts at the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) organised a meeting with the seed industry this month in a bid to stop trade in potentially diseased seeds and plants. Amazon and eBay both declined invitations to attend.

Tennucci wants a public education campaign with posters in garden centres to warn about buying from unregistered companies.

But he said he recognises that Defra does not have the resources to check for non-registered sellers on the internet, so advised that the industry forwards sellers' names to FERA.

"I'm frustrated because the legal people say we can shut these sellers down immediately but Defra don't have resources to deal with it."

Tennucci said seed packets are shipped with false CN22 registration as gifts, misdescribed, potentially contaminated and poor germinators. They are often attached to reputable sellers' listings.

Both eBay and Amazon declined to comment.

FERA comment

"The meeting took place with vegetable seed companies, including some who market seed online. Amazon was invited to the meeting but did not respond. Presentations covered the seed marketing regulatory requirements. The next step is to establish a working group with seed trade industry representation to take the issues forward, concentrating on sellers from Third World countries - mainly in Asia - marketing poor-quality seed."

Food & Environment Research Agency

- See www.fera.defra.gov.uk/plants/seeds/seedCertification/documents/ registeredCompanies14.pdf


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