21 Aug 2020

Seeds from China, what harm can they do?

Somebody in China is sending packets of seeds to 10’s of thousands of random recipients around the world and nobody seems to know why.

Why are we not screaming in anger? Has Covid-19 taught us nothing?
Biosecurity is arguably a more pressing issue than climate change. If Covid -19 can shut down the global economy and leave millions of people at risk of dying from treatable diseases, imagine what a pathogen that Rishi cannot protect our jobs from can do.

This is precisely the situation we are facing with the threat of Xylella, a non native bacterial infection of plants spreading through Europe and hundreds of other biosecurity threats. The Chancellor will not and cannot step in with with his magic money pot to save the day. Once this disease reaches the UK we will loose a significant proportion of our indigenous plant life. Could this be enough to trigger ecosystem collapse? Maybe.

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating for click bait but consider what is happening with ash dieback today, consider the steady decline of broadleaf woodland since the grey squirrel was introduced. This is real and happening now, just like Corona virus, only we care about Corona because it affect us directly.

Biosecurity threats can be contained if the political will / backbone exists. With the benefit of hindsight how much cheaper would it have been to shut down air travel and isolate the disease in China. This was not considered at the time, when it was an option. We can stop xylella and all the myriad other threats we face with simple and strict controls. Yes it will be inconvenient, but not as difficult to cope with as the collapse of whole ecosystems and all the loss of life this could cause.
If you receive seeds from China please burn them without opening the packet and ask your supermarket if the plants they are supplying have been through quarantine. They will not have been, but one day, one of them will be carrying a disease which will shut down British life more effectively than Covid and permanently.
Covid is just a wake up call.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/01/mystery-seed-parcels-world-biosecurity-china-uk-us