Residents across several U.S. states have reportedly been receiving seeds of unknown origin from unidentified Chinese senders.
What are the details?
States impacted by the mysterious seeds include Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Virginia, Washington, Utah, and more.
On Friday, the Virginia Department of Agriculture tweeted, “Public Asked To Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture added, “The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.”
Further, the department noted, “The seeds are sent in packages usually stating that the contents are jewelry. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock.”
The Washington State Department of Agriculture issued a similar warning, writing, “We have received reports of people receiving seeds from China that they did not order. If you receive them – don’t plant them.”
The department added, “Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.”
We have received reports of people receiving seeds from China that they did not order. If you receive them – don’t… https://t.co/zfAXEkPg7u
— WA St Dept of Agr (@WA St Dept of Agr)1595630546.0
‘It’s kind of scary’
In Utah, Department of Agriculture is investigating the incidents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Jane Rupp, president of BBB’s Utah chapter, told KSTU-TV that the seeds could be part of what’s called a “brushing” scam.
“That is rather random. I don’t think I’ve heard of seeds before,” Rupp said. “The first thing to do is Google your address and see what’s out there… Numerous things will come up when you Google your address. It’s kind of scary sometimes.”
The Kansas Department of Agriculture as well as the Arizona Department of Agriculture released statements about the seeds.
“Unsolicited packages of seeds have been received by people in several other states across the United States over the last several days,” Kansas agricultural officials wrote in a statement.
Mike Strain, Commissioner of Louisiana’s Agriculture and Forestry Department, also warned of the possibility of invasive species.
“Right now, we are uncertain what types of seeds are in the package,” Strain said. “Out of caution, we are urging anyone who receives a package that was not ordered by the recipient, to please call the LDAF immediately. We need to identify the seeds to ensure they do not pose a risk to Louisiana’s agricultural industry or the environment.”
The Daily Mail also reports that similar instances have taken place across the U.K. over the last week.
Officials are at a loss, but speculate that the seeds may be of an invasive plant species and advise residents not to use them.