Thousands of people have been receiving packets of seeds in the post which they didn’t order. Who is sending them? And why?
We spend a lot of money on our gardens. Maybe as much as £24 billion per year in the UK alone.
During the coronavirus lockdown, gardening has become ever more popular. And buying plants online is now a flourishing sector.
But thousands of people have been getting seeds in the post which they didn’t order.
And they keep on coming.
The Vice President of the National Farmers Union in Scotland received a package just a few days ago.
His was typical of many: A small package sent from China without him asking.
Across the UK, Europe and North America people have been getting similar presents in their postboxes.
A whole range of different plant seeds have been reported, from roses to mint, and from mustard to lavender.
According to the New York Times, 14 different varieties of plant have been identified.
There have been thousands of incidents in the USA.
The Canadian food agency has counted more than 750 cases there.
British authorities are also “investigating”.
Friend or foe?
In the European Union, it is illegal to import plants from China in this fashion.
The EU does not believe China has sufficient controls on seed production to guarantee biosecurity.
So are these seeds meant as a kindly, albeit misplaced, gift? Some kind of threat? Or a hoax perhaps?
Invasive alien species
Something which might at first seem harmless could be quite dangerous to the environment.
So-called invasive alien species (plants which don’t originate on these shores) can cause havoc to natural habitats.
Scottish scientists have warned that the seeds could be treated with a chemical and is urging people not to handle them.
You’ve got mail
So why send out thousands of packets of seeds?
The US is reportedly working on the theory that it is a scam to garner positive reviews for Chinese websites.
The perpertrators, or benefactors, have not been identified.
Meanwhile, the advice is not to open the packet, but put it straight in the bin whilst still sealed. Even composting is not advised in case the seeds cause pollution.
Or start growing out of control.
Something akin to Day of the Triffids?