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Mysterious Packets Of Seeds From China Keep Arriving At US Households

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 29 Jul 2020 12:51
Mysterious Packets Of Seeds From China Keep Arriving At US HouseholdsWhitehouse Police Department/Facebook

Strange packets of seeds from China keep turning up at US households in what’s being described as a potential ‘ecological disaster’. 

So far, 27 states including Washington, Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada and Texas, have reported people have received the packages, which they have not ordered. Some of the packages received were labelled to contain jewellery but instead had unidentified seeds inside. As tensions rise between the two countries, there are concerns the packages contain an invasive species.

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Upon receiving the packages, several people contacted authorities to raise concerns. Officials have advised those with the seeds in their possession to not plant them and wait for further instructions.

Seeds@RyanQuarlesKY/Twitter

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported they had received over 900 emails and several hundred emails from people who had the packages delivered to them.

Carolee Bull, a professor who leads the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology at Penn State University, explained why people are so worried about the seeds.

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The reason that people are concerned is — especially if the seed is the seed of a similar crop that is grown for income and food, or food for animals — that there may be plant pathogens or insects that are harbored in the seed.

Following further investigations, the Whitehouse Police Department believe the packages are part of a ‘brushing scam’.

**UPDATE** 7/28/2020Any questions regarding receiving unsolicited seeds, or if you’ve received seeds and have already…

Posted by Whitehouse Police Department on Saturday, July 25, 2020

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A statement on its Facebook page explained a brushing scam is ‘an exploit by a vendor used to bolster product ratings and increase visibility online by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and then submitting positive reviews on the receiver’s behalf under the guise of a verified owner.’

They added:

Although not directly dangerous, we would still prefer that people contact us to properly dispose of the seeds.

As well as the police and local agriculture departments, the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have been notified. The agency says that it is working along the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ‘prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.’

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Anyone who received such a package is advised to not open it, and contact the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Anti-Smuggling hotline at 1-800-877-3835 for additional guidance.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, China, Now, US News

Credits

The New York Times and 2 others
  1. The New York Times

    27 States Issue Warnings About Seed Packets From China

  2. Whitehouse Police Department/Facebook

    @whitehousepdoh

  3. Business Insider

    Mysterious Chinese seed packets are showing up all over the US, and the government is warning people not to plant them