[Arisaema-l] [Aroid-l] Another Windmill for Tilting?

DAVID LEEDY djleedy at sbcglobal.net
Fri Feb 1 05:38:38 CET 2013

Dear Deni, Mark, John, Ted, Betsy, and others,

Thank you so very much for your cogent responses.

I wonder if this conversation shouldn't also be had on other plant society lists 
(Orchid, Succulent, Begonia, Amaryllidaceae, etc.), on organization lists 
(American Horticultural Society, The American Plant Life Society, etc.), as well 
as the many internet blogs and websites (Dave's Garden, etc.). 

I am quite interested in what the whole community thinks about this and would 
appreciate receiving copies of all comments and suggestions, whatever the 

If anyone is a member of any of these (or other places, you may think 
appropriate) please introduce the subject in the way you think appropriate.  You 
are quite welcome to borrow from my initial posting.

Again, thank you all.

David Leedy
djleedy at sbcglobal.net

From: Deni Bown <denibown at googlemail.com>
To: djleedy at sbcglobal.net; criswick at spiceisle.com
Sent: Thu, January 31, 2013 3:42:23 PM
Subject: tilting at windmills

Dear David and John,
I wholeheartedly endorse your sentiments re: punitive import restrictions, not 
because they don't make sense - outbreaks of disease have I think been traced to 
casual importation of an exotic - but because they are draconian. A separate set 
of rules - I don't imagine we could legally dispense with all rules - should be 
applied to hobbyists and other importers of small quantities, just as travellers 
have a duty-free quota for alcohol etc. This would reduce the risk of both the 
importer and the authority bending the rules or lying to get round the red tape.
Quite how we get round the real live phyto issues is another question. Serious 
small-scale collectors and nurseries are aware of pests and diseases they would 
most certainly not want in their stock so are likely to take sensible 
precautions, whereas the spur-of-the-moment import by a traveller with no 
long-term investment in the plant's future should concern us as he/she is 
probably worryingly unaware of such issues.
The answer surely is for authorities to accommodate the small scale importer 
with a different but equally realistic permit. Isn't anyone doing this now? I 
remember years ago importing from USA and Caribbean to the UK. In one instance 
the UK authorities came to inspect the plants a few weeks later in my greenhouse 
and actually found some scale insect that hadn't been spotted during the 
certification - which goes to show..... but there was no great wahallah (as they 
say in Nigeria where I live) and we simply agreed a sensible course of action 
(isolation, spray regime etc.).

I now work for an agricultural research organisation. Though my work does not 
involve crops, I have to abide by phytosanitary regulations designed to prevent 
cross-border pathogens of food plants and therefore I have to refuse requests by 
collectors & nurseries in Europe for small quantities of seeds of the 
spectacular Pararistolochia goldieana and other indigenous species which are 
increasingly rare here due to deforestation and could do with some help from the 
outside world. 

In most cases - such as the 'P.g.' plant - these regulations don't really make 
sense. However, some exotics are related to crop plants and could be hosts for 
the next big plague. It's not easy.........
Please let's keep this discussion going. There are important issues at stake.
Best regards,
Consultant, Flora & Medicinal Plants
Project Manager, IITA Forest Project (www.reforest-iita.org) 
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
Oyo Road
PMB 5320
Work: +234 2 7517472 ext 2520
Mobile (Nigeria) +234 806 0486022
Mobile (UK) +44 787 0345924

From: John Criswick <criswick at spiceisle.com>
To: Discussion of aroids <aroid-l at www.gizmoworks.com>
Sent: Tue, January 29, 2013 1:59:22 PM
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Another Windmill for Tilting?

Dear David,
It has become increasingly obvious in recent years that plant health authorities 
are trying to make it impossible for plant collectors to transport plants from 
country to country, leaving only large commercial growers able to comply with 
their demands. 

This is to ignore the tremendous contribution made by non-commercial plantsmen 
to horticulture for centuries.  To them we owe the rich diversity of 
horticultural material available to us.  Yes it IS a cause worth battling for !
From:aroid-l-bounces at www.gizmoworks.com 
[mailto:aroid-l-bounces at www.gizmoworks.com] On Behalf Of DAVID LEEDY
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 6:20 AM
To: Discussion of aroids
Subject: [Aroid-l] Another Windmill for Tilting?
Condition #3 on my Permit to Import Plants:  "A phytosanitary certificate must 
accompany all propagative material imported under this permit."
I am corresponding with an individual in the UK growing plants in his back yard 
as I am doing here.  I would like to obtain two or three bulbs of one of the 
plants he is growing (an Arum).  The cost and other requirements of the 
authorities in the UK are so burdensome as to prohibit the type of exchange we 
would like to make. 

He states:  "If you have tangled with Plant Health in the UK you will understand 
why I don't want to get wrapped up in it. Last time I worked with the system it 
would only accept applications for imports through the online system, and the 
online system would only accept shipments of fruit and vegetables in container 
loads. The telephone helpline advised me to lie on my application! I."
Today, I received a letter from Michael Watson, Acting Executive Director of 
APHIS (USDA), in response to my inquiry, stating:  

“…there is no exception to the regulatory requirement for a phytosanitary 
certificate when importing small quantities of bulbs or tubers.  Bulbs and 
tubers are a more likely pathway for pests and disease.  Accordingly, we require 
that the importer obtain a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national 
plant health authorities of the country of export.   These certificates provide 
assurance that the plant or plant product has been inspected and found free of 
plant pests and diseases prior to its entry into the United States.  While we 
understand that obtaining a phytosanitary certificate may be inconvenient and 
can add to the cost of doing business, we assure you that this requirement is 
necessary to protect American agriculture.”
I really have two questions:
1.        How much American agriculture is really protected by this requirement, 
particularly as it relates to exchanges of small quantities of bulbs and tubers 
between hobbyists?   Is anyone aware of any studies?
2.       Is this a windmill worth tilting at?  Believe me, I am 73 years old, 
retired, and not above taking up lost causes and I have even won some of these.
Please pass this on to anyone who might be able to contribute an idea or 
David Leedy
djleedy at sbcglobal.net
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