Australian biosecurity officials are notoriously strict, imposing onerous fines on travellers who deliberately or inadvertently try bringing prohibited items into the country. Sometimes, they are a little too strict. The Guardian Australia reports overzealous officials recently destroyed irreplaceable plant samples collected in 19th-century France, damaging the reputation of Australian researchers.In two separate incidents, quarantine officials incinerated specimens sent to Australian research facilities from overseas. One collection dated back to the mid-1800s and was sent to the Queensland herbarium by the Paris Natural History Museum in March. "Quarantine basically said the paperwork wasn’t compliant and their response was to destroy them before another solution could be found," Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria representative Prof Michelle Waycott said. "What usually happens is we have a discussion — whether it’s letters or a phone call — but in this case, we seem to hav...

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