At least twenty-eight states in America are urging its residents to not plant or casually dispose of foreign seeds received through unsolicited mail, apparently from China, because they can be threatening to the environment.
State officials are belling the alarm after several people reported receiving packages containing seeds that they did not order, NBC reports.
Initially, it was limited to certain states, but according to CNBC, people across 50 states are now receiving the mystery seeds.
“Based on the information provided by constituents, the packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.
All contained some sort of seed packet either alone, with jewelry, or another inexpensive item,” the Delaware Department of Agriculture said in a statement Monday.
All the 50 states including Colorado, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas Louisiana, Minnesota, Maryland, 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 reported receiving foreign packages people did not order.
“USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China,” the agriculture body’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your state department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins,” USDA added.
For the most part, packages received by people are apparently from China, having Chinese imprints in the labeling. Some seeds arrived in yellow envelopes while others in white.
USDA has said, as of now they have no evidence if the seeds are anything apart from a ” “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.”
However, State agriculture departments are strongly warning from not planting the seeds as “unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment.” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said.
Similarly, Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson in a statement on his Facebook page said: “Our office has received contact from a few Mississippians reporting the arrival of unidentified seeds. If you receive seeds from China, DO NOT PLANT THEM. And don’t throw them in the trash.”
New York Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball has urged anyone who receive the seeds must keep them out of reach from children and pets.
“Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.”