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By Ari Goren

Ketchup company rep smuggles 4 million tomato seeds into Israel

A huge number of tomato seeds were smuggled into Israel by a French tourist who arrived by plane and without any import permits. The smuggler was detected by Customs Officers at Ben Gurion International Airport. The officers caught the tourist with some 4,000,000 tomato seeds weighing a total of 17 Kg. and a value of approximately 250,000 NIS. The seeds hadn't been declared and the tourist entered Israel through the Green (Nothing to Declare) route.

The matter was passed over to inspectors from the flora protection and inspection services and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development who began an investigation. During initial questioning it was discovered that the tourist was the representative of a company producing ketchup who had smuggled in the seeds for the company. It should be noted that Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development inspectors take great efforts to prevent the infiltration of new diseases that don’t exist in Israel and which could cause damage to agriculture and local flora and fauna.

The damage caused by the infiltration of new diseases can be seen on a number of levels: direct damage to agriculture, animals and fish farms, indirect damage to infrastructure, human beings, ecological damage and the blocking of existing export channels and the prevention of new channels, environmental pollution and the pollution of agricultural produce.

Disease can infiltrate Israel in three ways: from neighboring countries – diseases can be transferred from their natural location to a nearby location actively (by flight) or passively (wind, water, erosion and transfer via wild animals etc.). On commercial plant shipments: all commercial shipments arriving in Israel are inspected by professional agencies at least three times.

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