USDA Identifies 14 Unsolicited Seeds From China

IARN — The U.S. Department of Agriculture continues its investigation into Americans across the country receiving unsolicited seeds from China in packages labeled as jewelry.

According to Osama El-Lissy with the Plant Protection program of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 14 different species of seeds have been identified by USDA.

“Mustard, cabbage, morning glory, and some of the herbs like mint, sage, rosemary, and lavender,” El-Lissy said. “Then, there are other seeds like hibiscus and roses. This is just a subset of the samples we’ve collected so far.”

USDA considers the practice agricultural smuggling, and all states reporting the practice are asking consumers to notify their state agriculture departments. El-Lissy says the packages may be part of what is called a brushing scheme.

“We do not have any evidence indicating that this is something other than the so-called “brushing” scam,” El-Lissy said. “That’s where people receive unsolicited items from a seller, who then posts false customer reviews to boast their sales.”

In Iowa, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says consumers are asked not to open any sealed package containing seeds, and not throw unsealed seeds in the trash as they could grow in landfills.

“From a consumer standpoint, if you have received seeds then you should be looking at your online passwords and those types of things,” Naig said. “You should pay close attention to that to see if you have any unwanted activity.”

“From an agriculture and environmental standpoint,” Naig continued, “we are concerned about what’s in those seed packets. There’s no reason to believe yet that there is something amiss here, but we are assuming that until we know differently, those seeds are something that we don’t want planted in the state of Iowa.”

The mysterious seed packages are a concern for American farmers as they could introduce diseases to local plants or be harmful to livestock. Similar packages containing seeds were showing up in mailboxes in Britain, as well.

Story Courtesy The Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network



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