Mystery China Seed Packets Shipped To US States, USDA Warns Not To Plant

  • At least 27 states reported finding mysterious shipments of seeds from China.
  • The USDA warned people Tuesday against planting potentially invasive or harmful specimens.
  • A scientist told The New York Times that, in addition to invasive species, the seeds may contain pathogens or insects.
  • Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.

Dozens of US states have reported mysterious seeds that appear in packages from China and warn citizens not to plant them because they could be an invasive species.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday it was investigating the unsolicited packets of seeds reported by at least 27 states and urged anyone who receives them to contact local agricultural officials.

“Save the seeds and packaging, including the shipping label, until someone from your state department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions,” the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a press release. . “Do not plant seeds of unknown origins.”

The agency also said the packages were likely a “brushing scam,” in which consumers receive packages and a company then falsifies positive reviews of the products.

But they could also quickly become an ecological disaster.

“An invasive plant species may not appear threatening, but these small invaders could destroy Texas agriculture,” said Sid Miller, Texas agriculture commissioner, in a press release.

And scientists agree, that’s why the USDA has such strict rules on importing plants and other organic materials.

“The reason people are concerned is, especially if the seed is the seed of a similar crop that is grown for income and food, or animal feed, that there may be plant or insect pathogens found in the seed, “said Carolee. Bull, a professor in the Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology program at Penn State, told the New York Times.