Mysterious Packets Of Seeds From China Keep Arriving At US Households
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.
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.
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.
Bull told The New York Times:
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’.
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.’
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.’
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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CreditsThe New York Times and 2 others
The New York Times
Whitehouse Police Department/Facebook