Make Country of Origin Labelling mandatory for imported Cut Flowers and Foliage

Make Country of Origin Labelling mandatory for imported Cut Flowers and Foliage

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Dr Lucy Nairn started this petition to Department of Industry Science and Resources

Many of the flowers and foliage sold in Australia are imported from overseas[1], and yet unlike fruits and vegetables there is no requirement for them to be labelled with their country of origin.

Imported flowers pose a considerable biosecurity risk, carrying a range of insects that are already considered quarantine pests, as well as other potential new pests to Australia. In addition, these pests may also carry pathogens and parasites that could harm Australia’s native plants or animals [2]. Plant material may also harbour diseases. Currently it is very difficult for consumers (both florists and the general public) to find out where flowers have been sourced from, as many wholesalers and importers repackage and rebrand flowers when they arrive in the country[3]. Not only does this practice prevent buyers from making informed decisions, it makes it much more difficult to trace any insect pests that may arrive. Most people wouldn't think twice about an insect emerging from a bunch of flowers that was grown locally, however one that's hitchhiked across the globe could (and should) ring alarm bells. Country of Origin labelling (CoOL) makes it possible to differentiate between the two.

To try to prevent the spread of insect pests flowers are fumigated in their country of origin, according to the practices of the individual country. To prevent unauthorised propagation imported flowers and foliage are often “devitalised” by submerging them in the herbicide glyphosate, a chemical that many consumers consciously avoid due to concerns that it may be carcinogenic[4]. Florists working with imported products report headaches, dermatitis and other issues and the current trend for decorating cakes with flowers makes this contamination a particular concern. Consumers need to be able to make an informed choice.

Other consumer concerns include the carbon footprint of flowers air-freighted to Australia, and the potential lack of oversight into worker conditions overseas. In other markets where the volume of imported flowers is more widely known, consumer advocacy has resulted in substantial improvements in worker conditions, and Fair Trade certified products can attract a premium price[5]. The lack of CoOL in Australia obscures this and means we run the risk of inadvertently supporting unethical labour practices.

Consumers should have the right to make an informed decision when purchasing, including by choosing to support Australian growers. We therefore request that Country of Origin labelling be made mandatory for all flowers and foliage imported into Australia.

 



[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-09/imported-flowers-fuelling-biosecurity-fears/12529126
[2] Monash University and Invasive Species Council (2019). Invasive insects: risks and pathways. Cut flower and foliage imports as a high-risk pathway for the introduction of invasive insect species
[3] https://iview.abc.net.au/show/landline/series/0/video/RF1904Q028S00
[4] https://www.smh.com.au/national/first-cancer-lawsuit-over-weedkiller-roundup-filed-in-australia-20190603-p51u1a.html
[5] https://theconversation.com/concerted-campaign-helps-women-in-kenyas-flower-industry-get-a-better-deal-90254

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!