Mysterious Seed Packets Originating From China Being Shipped Across US and Canada

On last July 2020, US residents in all 50 states as well as across Canada reported receiving the bizarre, unsolicited seed packages. The handful of seeds arrive in little sealed clear plastic pouches and are tucked in standard-size light gray or beige envelopes — sometimes labeled as jewelry. The USDA said if you receive the packets of seeds, do not plant them and contact your state plant regulatory official. Most of the packets appear — according to the address labels — to have come from the Chinese cities of Suzhou.

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said last week that the Chinese mail service was working with the US Postal Service to have some of the packages shipped back to China for analysis.

The spokesperson claimed that the address labels on the package were forged.

Image Credit: CBSNEWS

The packages, according to the state were sent by mail and "may have Chinese writing on them," and the words "China Post." Officials have warned the shipments of mystery seeds, could be invasive plant species.

Several days later, a federal agency said it had identified 14 types of plants from unsolicited packages of seeds that appeared to have been mailed from China, revealing a “mix of ornamental, fruit and vegetable, herb and weed species.” They includes mustard, cabbage and morning glory as well as herbs like mint, sage, rosemary and lavender. Hibiscus and roses were also found.

Image Credit: New York Post

It is unclear who is behind the packages, but US agriculture officials have said they believe the seeds may be part of a “brushing scam” — in which people receive goods they never ordered and the sender then posts a fake customer review in their name to boost sales.

However, an Arkansas man who received one of the mysterious seed packages planted them on his property — and said the results are wild.

Image Credit: New York Post

“We … planted the seeds just to see what would happen,’’ Booneville resident Doyle Crenshawn told local CBS-TV affiliate KSFM.

The plant is producing large white fruit from orange flowers that resemble those of a squash.

The man planted the seeds before US agriculture officials issued a dire warning to recipients not to put them in the ground, the station said.

Although the species identified so far are harmless, plant experts have warned that seeds from other parts of the world could damage crops. 

State agriculture officials in Virginia warned, "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."

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller urged people to be cautious. "It could be a bacteria. It could be another virus, some kind of invasive species," Miller told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth.

Robin Pruisner, a state seed control official at the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in Iowa, told Reuters that she has heard reports of a coating of possible insecticide or fungicide on the seeds, which could prove especially harmful to crops.

The state asked anyone who may have received a package of unsolicited seeds in the mail to call the Office of Plant Industry Services (OPIS) at 804-786-3515.


Sources:

  • https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/seeds-china-usda-china-gardners-a9651966.html
  • https://www.cbsnews.com/news/seeds-from-china-usda-investigation-identified/
  • https://www.wtvr.com/news/local-news/mysterious-seeds-mailed-to-virginia-homes-do-not-plant
  • https://nypost.com/2020/08/04/heres-what-happened-when-man-planted-mystery-seeds-from-china/

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