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"Mystery seeds" parcels receiving worldwide; Chinese hands suspected

Published:10 August 2020

The Union Agriculture Ministry had alerted state governments as well as the seed industry and research bodies to be vigilant about "mystery, suspicious and unsolicited seed parcels" from unknown sources entering into India which can be a threat to the country's biodiversity.

New Delhi | The government's farm research institute ICAR on Monday said it has started gathering inputs from global research bodies about "mystery seeds" parcels, received from unknown sources in some countries like the US.
"It is a serious matter. Seeds means agriculture. Any seeds with devastating pathogens can threaten our food security. So, we need to be vigilant," Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Director General Trilochan Mohapatra told PTI.
ICAR has started interacting with global agriculture research institutes on this issue and is gathering inputs about the suspicious parcels, he said.
Last week, the Union Agriculture Ministry had alerted state governments as well as the seed industry and research bodies to be vigilant about "mystery, suspicious and unsolicited seed parcels" from unknown sources entering into India which can be a threat to the country's biodiversity.
The directive was issued in the wake of thousands of suspicious seeds shipments reported across the world in the last few months, especially in countries like the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Japan and some European nations.
Mohapatra said ICAR has also received a directive from the ministry.
He, however, said, "If shipments are coming via sea or air route, obviously our customs officials have to check and see what it is and get isolated. They should send the parcel to appropriate agencies for testing and taking further measures." ICAR, which does not have access to airports or seaports, can only pitch in after it receives a sample of "suspicious seeds" for research, he said.
"After it (seeds parcel) is sent to us, we will do a proper study and then ascertain what it contains and how dangerous it would be for our Indian agriculture," he added.
ICAR is the apex body for coordinating, guiding, and managing research and education in agriculture in the entire country under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.


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