Global internet trade of plants - legality and risks
Internet trade of plants has been investigated in a short study that focused on plants for planting imported into Germany from third countries worldwide. Internet trade of plants may pose a high phytosanitary risk when commodities are infested with non-native pests including quarantine pests. The offers of 1097 internet traders, in particular non-European traders, have been checked. One hundred and seventeen consignments of plants were purchased from 70 different internet traders and investigated in detail. As only individual plants were purchased the study shows in particular what is available for purchase to private consumers. The study revealed that 89% of the consignments did not comply with phytosanitary import requirements for one or more reasons. In all these cases the phytosanitary certificate was missing and in 68% of the consignments the customs declaration was missing or wrong. Wrong customs declarations indicate that these internet traders ignored the import requirements or provided incorrect information to the import authorities. Prohibited plants could be easily bought via the internet. In addition, harmful organisms were found in 13% of the consignments and 2% of these were quarantine pests. All consignments that were accompanied by the required phytosanitary certificate issued by the National Plant Protection Organisation of the exporting country (11%) complied with the EU and German, respectively, import requirements.