If these seeds are planted in India, 10,000 years of bio-diversity will go down the drain. The Chinese seed episode must be viewed in the context of the dreaded parthenium weed that came from the US and HTBT cotton which makes its way into India through hawala channels.
BY B N KUMAR
MUMBAI, Aug 26 (BNC Network): China has launched seed terrorism against India, US, Australia and some European countries with a view to destroying their food security and make people starve.
Several cases of unsolicited courier packets disguised as jewelry have come to light across major nations.
The threat is real. The seeds could turn out to be silent killers, much worse than the Wuhan virus.
The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) has also cautioned India about such suspicious seeds being smuggled into the country through e-commerce websites after such incidents occurred in the US and other countries. Agriculture officials in at least 27 American states had warned people to not plant these seeds and immediately contact authorities.
Seed terrorism a Declaration of war by China, Indra Shekhar Singh, Director- Policy and Outreach, National Seed Association of India, told BizNewsConnect.
If these seeds are planted in India, 10,000 years of bio-diversity will go down the drain, he said. The Chinese seed episode must be viewed in the context of the dreaded parthenium weed that came from the US and HTBT cotton which makes its way into India through hawala channels.
Parthenium came to India along with the US wheat under PL-480 during the 1950s and spread alarmingly ever since invading about 35 million hectares of land throughout the country including Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep. This weed is notorious to cause many diseases like skin allergy, hay fever, breathing problems in human beings and animals besides reducing agricultural productivity loss of biodiversity.
Meanwhile, in Australia, Head of Biosecurity Operations Emily Canning has cautioned the people against unsolicited seeds that do not meet biosecurity conditions can threaten our environment, agricultural industries and even backyard gardens.
“They could also be carrying invasive species or harmful plant diseases,” she said.
The US, at least 27 states have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. The official also issued warning that they might be invasive or otherwise harmful.
ISTA said residents in Washington, New York, Virginia, Florida and a few other states in the US had received unrecognised seed packets without details of origin through e-commerce companies even though the recipients had not ordered for them.
These mystery seed packages is a threat to Indian Biodiversity as these seeds could be of an invasive species or weed, or carriers of seed-born pathogen which, if established in our environment, will compete or displace native species/germplasm or destructive for our biodiversity. In the past we have witnessed the pest weeds like Parthenium, Polypogon, Phalaris, alien anthophytes etc that are invaded in India and dispersed in many crop fields.
Seed may also be work as a carrier for:
Seed-borne pathogen: a pest carried by seeds externally or internally that may or may not be transmitted to plants growing from the seeds, causing their infestation.
Seed-transmitted: a seed-borne pest that is transmitted via seeds directly to plants growing from these seeds, causing their infestation.
Seed is a pathway: seed is a mean of entry and establishment of pests in new geographic areas.
Indra Shekhar Singh says it is not very difficult for such parcels to enter India through the hawala route, much as HT (Herbicide-tolerant) BT Cotton that have been playing havoc with the cotton seed market in the country.
HT cotton has illegally spread in several States of India. It is also well known that the HT cotton seeds are multiplied and sold by the illegal operators which contaminated the existing GEAC approved GMO- Bt cotton seed production system and leaving the ₹2,500-crore legal cottonseed businesses vulnerable.
Similarly, “we have experienced the Bt brinjal illegally grown in Indian field without any approval from GEAC and any authorised bodies,” Singh says.
Research material shows that one plant of parthenium can deliver thousand seeds and can travel up to 3 KM through wind and can grow rapidly. Some of its harmful effects of its pollen include 40 per cent reduction of yield in dry land crops and vegetable varieties like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers and other solanaceous plants, among many other crop varieties.
This dreaded weed is spreading at an alarming rate in India and all efforts for its management are falling short. In view of the seriousness and magnitude of the threat posed by this weed, ICAR-Directorate of Weed Research (DWR), Jabalpur has been organizing mass awareness programmes since 2004 to educate the farmers and general public about the harmful effects of Parthenium and ways of its management.
In view of these experiences, India should be more than doubly careful, about the Chinese seed invasion, experts say