During July and August 2020 UK plant health authorities became aware through social media of members of the public in the UK receiving packets of seed which had not been ordered by them. These had been marked as ‘ear studs’ or similar on the packaging and had consequently not been through routine biosecurity channels. So far over 800 of these packages have been sent to the Animal and Plant Health Agency and passed on to Fera Science Limited to support the investigation. As the National Reference Laboratory for plant health in England and Wales, Fera are using their expertise to identify the seeds to species, to look for invasive weeds and also to check for the presence of pests and diseases which could threaten UK agriculture and horticulture as well as the wider environment. Initial investigations suggest the seeds are of multiple species, but these investigations are ongoing.
If you are posted seeds without ordering them, or if you are simply not sure what sorts of seeds they are, do not plant or compost them – they could have a detrimental impact on your own garden, the wider environment as well as many plant and animal species. Report any cases of unslicited seeds to the Government’s Animal Plant Health Agency by emailing: email@example.com.