Packets of seeds have been arriving on the doorsteps of some Canadians without explanation and a few of the recipients have, to the concern of government officials, planted their contents.
Documents obtained through a federal access to information and privacy (ATIP) request files by CTV Calgary detail how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) tasked inspectors across the country with tracking down the seed recipients, and ensuring the seeds were destroyed.
The 825 pages of spreadsheets and emails document a countrywide, systematic attempt to round up and destroy the seeds, with CFIA officers either collecting the seeds for disposal or advising seed recipients to destroy them, usually through incineration.
The vast majority of people who contacted the CFIA had not planted the seeds, but the documents list dozens of cases where the seeds were planted and had sprouted, by the time CFIA inspectors were contacted.
CTV asked the CFIA for details regarding what was discovered in the samples of soil, seeds, and plant material collected.
“We have no further information than what is contained in our last update (Aug 6, 2020) on the issue,” said a CFIA public affairs spokesperson/
That update does not address the results of the soil testing but does say “The seeds are from a range of plant species, including tomato, strawberry, rose and citrus, as well as some weed seeds that are common in Canada (for example, shepherd’s purse and flixweed).”
Based on visual inspections carried out to date, the seeds appear to be low-risk, however, Canadians are being cautioned to not plant these seeds from unknown origins.”
The foreign seed deliveries began in the late spring of 2020, just as Canadians started planting in earnest, depleting local seed supplies in many garden centres. Those shortages led many people to order seeds online and may have masked the scope of the unordered foreign seed deliveries.
Seed suppliers are already reporting heightened sales leading up to the 2021 planting season.
The CFIA says it is working with the Canada Border Services Agency and Canada Post, as well as its international partners, to identify and stop the flow of unsolicited seeds into Canada.
It continues to recommend that unknown seeds be sealed in a second bag and reported to the local CFIA office. Additionally, it says anyone ordering seeds online should check out Canada’s plant import requirements when buying and selling online.
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