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Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply has bolstered precautions with seed packages shipped from Asian countries and arriving by mail at random destinations across the country. Of Brazil’s 27 states, only in Maranhão and Amazonas have sanitary authorities not received material of this kind, said the ministry’s Defense Secretary José Guilherme Leal.
The official recommendation is not to open the packages and contact the Federal Superintendence of Agriculture of the state or the state agency for agricultural defense for the delivery or collection of the material. The procedure is the same if seeds have already been planted. To make probes easier, packages should be preserved, even though the information on it may be false.
The import of vegetable material, including seeds and saplings, is controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture and must comply with sanitation, quality, and identity standards. Products of this nature, the ministry reported, come into the country in small amounts, as buyers plan to have a certain plant at home or in the garden, and are usually unaware that purchasing this material this way is illegal and may bring about a number of risks.
Thus far, 258 seed packages have been submitted to the ministry for analysis. Results may be ready in 30 days, but may last longer in some cases. Preliminary analysis of 39 samples has found a living mite, three types of fungi in 25 samples, and still unidentified bacteria in two others. Experts have also detected four plants not found in Brazil.
The case is described by Brazilian authorities as unprecedented worldwide, and has surprised agents as the shipments in question were not requested. To be sure, there is no evidence proving it was intentionally done to introduce a pathogenic organism into the country, but risks may still exist for agriculture, the secretary argued.
For now, in Brazil, only the Ministry of Agriculture is investigated into the issue, and the police have not been involved. The ministry is contacting agricultural defense agents in other countries to try and identify where the bundles may have come from. So far, shipments are believed to be part of the so-called brushing scam.
In situations such as these, international shopping platforms like Alibaba and AliExpress use the technique to boost their ranking, based on customer rating and the volume of sales. Aiming to increase sales, platforms may start sending goods to fake customers, or buying the products themselves. Strategies may also include sending an extra product as free sample.
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