Electronic mail screening moves closer

10 December 2020

Traditionally, border biosecurity staff don’t see any information about items arriving at the International Mail Centre before they appear on the mail belt for screening by x-ray or detector dog.

New data rules from the Universal Postal Union and World Customs Organization are a game changer. They allow information about things like contents, the name of the exporter, and the country of origin to be captured in a barcode, which can be scanned on arrival – all information useful for biosecurity, allowing items of interest to be picked up quickly and pulled aside for scrutiny.

The new data will be mandatory across the globe from January 2021, opening an enormous window of opportunity for Biosecurity New Zealand to learn more about what’s coming into New Zealand, particularly important given the burgeoning e-commerce risk as more and more people go online to order goods from overseas, especially seeds and plants.

Demand for fruit and veggie seeds have skyrocketed during COVID-19, leading to increased interest in online providers based overseas – some of whom KVH is aware have been offering varieties of kiwifruit seed for sale. Unfortunately, many seeds purchased online aren’t what they say they are and more importantly do not meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules and could risk introducing a plant disease.

Growers are reminded that importing seeds is best left to reputable commercial operators who know what they are doing and are aware of what they must always do to meet the rules (including an import permit; phytosanitary certificate; and post entry quarantine for example).