People in 28 States Have Received Mysterious Packages of Seeds From China

Officials warn recipients of the unsolicited seeds not to plant them

Americans in 28 states have received mysterious packages of seeds from China
If you receive an unsolicited package of seeds like this, officials say you should not plant them.
US Department of Agriculture
By Bonnie Stiernberg / July 29, 2020 1:08 pm

Residents in at least 28 states have reported receiving mysterious unsolicited packages of seeds from China in the mail in recent days, and officials have urged them not to plant them because they could potentially be harmful.

“Based on information provided by constituents, the packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them,” the Delaware Department of Agriculture said in a statement on Monday. “All contained some sort of seed packet either alone, with jewelry, or another inexpensive item.”

In addition to Delaware, agricultural departments in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington state, West Virginia and Wyoming have also received reports of the unwanted seeds showing up in the mail.

The USDA is currently investigating, but it said it believes it likely is a “brushing scam” in which a seller sends unsolicited items to people and then posts fake customer reviews to boost sales. “USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment,” the department said in a statement.

If you happen to receive a weird package of seeds you didn’t order, you shouldn’t plant them or throw them away. “If these seeds should bear invasive species, they may be a threat to our environment and agriculture,” Steve Cole, director of Clemson University’s Regulatory Services unit in South Carolina, said. “We don’t want unknown species planted or thrown out where they may wind up sprouting in a landfill.”

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