Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Banning Sales of Invasive Species -- A Money-Saving Win for Taxpayers

Last weekend, I made trips to a couple of stores to purchase crops and soil amendments for our spring/early summer garden.  I was dismayed to find that damaging invasive species are for sale in both OSH and Home Depot. 

Shame on OSH for selling the invasive shrub, Scotch Broom, and shame on Home Depot for selling the invasive weed, Japanese Honeysuckle (I'm guessing there were others, but I didn't have time to check).  Both species are on the noxious weed lists of many states and conservation organizations across America.

What are OSH and Home Depot doing wrong here?  These species are or have been classified in many states as "Noxious weeds", which were defined by the 1974 Federal Noxious Weed Act as:
Noxious Weed means any living stage, such as seeds and reproductive parts, of any parasitic or other plant of a kind, which is of foreign origin, is new to or not widely prevalent in the United States, and can directly or indirectly injure crops, other useful plants, livestock, or poultry or other interests of agriculture, including irrigation, or navigation, or the fish or wildlife resources of the United States or the public health.
These plants are injurious and economically harmful!  So why on earth are they for sale, for people to buy and plant in their yards or otherwise on their property?  Is the ability to sell noxious weeds really that important to the horticultural industry and the sales of stores like Home Depot and OSH that such species can't be banned?  Really?

Is it too much to ask for the horticultural industry to show some level of moral responsibility to society and stop selling noxious weeds to typically unsuspecting customers who think they just look pretty?

The result of noxious weeds like this being commercially available to consumers who've probably never even heard of "noxious weeds" is undoubtedly that some plantings escape and become expensive, time-consuming, environmentally-damaging problems for state and federal agencies, environmental NGO's and private landowners.  Even worse, they probably often result in pest control officials using pesticides of questionable or even harmful levels of toxicity to eradicate the infestations.

Why should horticultural companies and stores like Home Depot and OSH get to profit off the sales of harmful invasive weeds at the expense of taxpayers?

This just can't be too hard of a problem to fix in today's day and age of uber-tight agency and NGO budgets.  It's time to ban commercial sales of species legally classified as invasive or noxious.  This is no-brainer conservation action that will save consumers, agencies and NGO's money, protect the public health from pesticide use that can be avoided, and benefit the health of ecosystems and biodiversity.

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