Help stop a US company selling weed seeds into Australia

In November last year our CEO Andrew Cox featured in The Land's front page news story warning that a credit card and internet are all that’s needed to introduce Australia’s next major weed.

In November last year our CEO Andrew Cox featured in The Land’s front page news story warning that a credit card and internet are all that’s needed to introduce Australia’s next major weed.

In mid-2014 we demonstrated how easy it was to illegally import banned weed seeds into Australia by buying them through eBay.

Through an online investigation, we exposed multiple sellers of highly invasive species such as Mexican feathergrass (Naselle tenuissima) and kochia (Kochia scoparia) .

Since then, Australia’s Department of Agriculture has done a great job reducing the sale of prohibited seeds via eBay and other online sellers by engaging with the administrators of these sites and with international suppliers to promote compliance with Australian quarantine laws. In recent searches on eBay we have found far fewer examples of prohibited seeds advertised for sale to Australia.

However, not all international companies are willing to stop selling prohibited seeds into Australia. One such company is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

On the popular review website Yelp, the Department of Agriculture has posted a negative review (16 September), warning that Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds “continues to send prohibited seeds to Australia after being informed of import requirements aimed at protecting Australia’s unique environment and agricultural industries”.

Let us see if we can generate enough online pressure to motivate Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds to reform their ways. Please leave your own negative review on Yelp. The company claims to have a conscience – see their ‘About Us’ page – so let them know they could cause serious damage to the Australian environment and agriculture by selling prohibited seeds to Australians. You could also leave comments on their Facebook page.

Examples of prohibited seeds being sold by the company include Ricinus communisDatura metal and Marrubium vulgare. Australia’s farmers should be concerned as the company is also selling several restricted fruit and vegetable species.

While exerting online pressure is common practice for other environmental issues, we suspect this is a pioneering endeavour in biosecurity. Let’s make it work! We’ll monitor the site and let you know how it goes.

The Invasive Species Council will also continue to report to the Department of Agriculture other online sites that offer sales of prohibited seeds. Let us know if you find any.

More info

How you can help

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3 Responses to “Help stop a US company selling weed seeds into Australia”

  1. Several readers have posted negative reviews of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds on the Yelp review website. Thank you. Unfortunately, most have been removed – although it is not clear in what way the review guidelines have been breached (all were polite). The Invasive Species Council will consider other options for exerting online pressure on this company. Please let us know by emailing if you have any ideas.

    Carol Booth
    Invasive Species Council

  2. The use of the word ‘heritage’ is close to false advertising. There are quite a few seedsavers’ networks which are trying to keep old types of apples, tomatoes etc available for genetic diversity and historic interest. They would not intentionally seek out weed species but might choose them mistakenly.
    People need to know that words like ‘heritage’ and also ‘organic’ can be misleading – particularly if buying over the net.
    More publicity about the importance of the quarantine process for keeping Australia safe is needed. The recent episode where someone was trying to bring in poppy seeds from France as a commemoration of the First World War was another event where little general understanding of the dangers of careless introduction of species was shown.
    The latest trend of having seeds implanted in the cardboard of takeaway containers is also a worry – though I’ve tried without success to germinate anything from these.

  3. Goodday,
    I certainly am concerned that further invasive species are being introduced into Australia’s bio-environment. Our south-east region has a lot of volunteers dedicating generous efforts spending hours and hours of their physical hard labour to help beat back exotic species from our coastline vegetation. It defies sense that anyone would consider introducing even further overseas invaders into our sensitive and special environment.

    Our biodiversity is at get risk from these foreign invaders.
    I commend the Invasive Species Council for drawing attention to further pending disasters. Please no more invaders!