The Centre is likely to issue an alert on unsolicited seeds coming through e-commerce companies after the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) cautioned it and state governments over unsolicited mail packages containing spurious seeds.
Such seeds may pose a threat to the environment and human health and may trigger pest attacks and carry poisonous weeds, thus affecting the agriculture ecosystem.
“The International Seed Testing Association has cautioned the Indian government about entry of unsolicited and suspicious seeds into the country through e-commerce companies following such incidents in the US,” ISTA vice-president K Keshavulu said. However, no such deliveries have yet been received in India, he added.
Further, a high alert has been issued in Hyderabad as it is considered to be the seed capital of the country. The state government has also cautioned farmers and seed companies to inform officials immediately in case they come across such suspicious seed packets.
“Everyone has to be careful about receiving or using seeds of unknown origin. Farmers, kitchen gardeners and seed companies have to be very careful while using seeds from foreign unknown sources. The government has to tighten scrutiny at ports and airports,” Ram Kaundinya, director-general, Federation of Seed Industry of India, told FE. “Seed terrorism and unsolicited seeds could be a threat for the country,” he added.
ISTA received information that people in Washington, New York, Virginia, Florida and a few other states in the US have been receiving seed packets through e-commerce companies without ordering for them. The suspicious seed packets are unrecognised and have no details of origin.