Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stamps of Disapproval

ISW reader Jeremy C. from the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog sent in a tip about some interesting new Dutch wildflower stamps that feature plantable wildflower seeds in a piece that peels away from the actual postage. According to the Postzegel blog a sheet of the "Bloemetjes Cadeau" feature images and contain seeds of the following five species:

  • Petunia (Petunia multiflora) [seems to be benign]
  • Moroccan toadflax (Linaria maroccana) [naturalized on both US coasts, on the "early warning" list for the Hell's Canyon SWAT Team in Idaho, adventive in the UK, Australia and New Zealand]
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) [considered a weed in the UK, adventive in New Zealand and the US]
  • Edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus) [naturalized in Australia, native to South Africa and considered a "problem weed" there]
  • Hybrid pinks (Dianthus chinensis x barbatus) [Not invasive as far as I can tell, though considered a weed in its native China]

Should we be concerned? It looks like TNT Post, the Dutch post office, is either restricting these for internal use only or recommending it - I cannot tell from the translation. The fact that most stamp collectors will want to preserve the stamps in their entirety and not plant the seeds makes this a fairly low risk situation, but perhaps pathogens are an issue? The Postzegel blog notes that the Dutch post office will mail these out to collectors worldwide with a statement in English describing what the stamps contain, and also points out that customs regulations might prevent these stamps from getting through to other countries. Hopefully this will alert countries with strict regulations to the "surprise" inside the stamps. Of course, you can already purchase them on eBay from sellers in the US, no customs sheet necessary.

Right now it is just me and the Babel Fish trying to figure out the story, so if anyone can translate Dutch feel free to add details (or corrections) in the comments below.

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