NFU urgent warning over possible seed scam

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The NFU Scotland has issued an urgent warning after significant numbers of Scottish households have been receiving unsolicited packets of seeds in the post from China/Singapore as part of a likely scam.

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 chairman, 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.

APHA is conducting tests on seed samples and is 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.

Mr Porter added: ‘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.’

Following contact with Scottish Government, NFUS urges those receiving seeds to take the following actions:

• If the packet of seeds has not been opened, please leave it sealed.
• DO NOT PLANT OR COMPOST THESE SEEDS.
It is possible that these seeds could be a harmful invasive species or harbour a disease both of which if released could pose a threat to agriculture and the environment.
• Do not handle the seeds

These seeds may have been treated with a chemical pesticide. Please wash your hands if you have handled them without gloves.

Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) is collecting these unsolicited packets of seeds for analysis. It is asking for your co-operation to send these seeds to SASA.

Email your details and a postal address to info@sasa.gov.scot

You will be sent a pre-paid self-addressed envelope and zip-lock bag. When you receive the envelope and zip-lock bag please insert the packet of seeds into the zip-lock bag and seal. Then place the zip-lock bag and contents into the envelope and post it back to SASA.

If you receive further unsolicited packages, please report them again using info@sasa.gov.scot