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If you receive a packet of seeds in the mail, do not plant them or touch them. That is the message from officials who warn that unsolicited packages of mystery seeds are being sent to American residential addresses across the country from China.
Officials are urging people not to plant the seeds or dispose of them on their own, amid fears they could be an invasive species. They should place them in an airtight bag and contact the department right away.
“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,” the department said in a statement.
We have received reports of people receiving seeds from China that they did not order. If you receive them - don't plant them. Report to @USDA_APHIS at https://t.co/0U53rbAiHs pic.twitter.com/Y4yAKv5bk7— WA St Dept of Agr (@WSDAgov) July 24, 2020
But it’s not just Virginia. Reports from various states suggest the seeds are being sent from China to Americans across the country — possibly with malicious intent.
Fox13 reports: Over the past few weeks, people in Utah have been reporting mysterious packages they’ve been receiving in the mail from China.
Lori Culley, who lives in Tooele, said she was excited to find two small packages in her mailbox on Tuesday. Although most of the writing on the outside was in Chinese, the label indicated there would be earrings inside.
“I opened them up and they were seeds,” Culley said. “Obviously they’re not jewelry!”
Culley couldn’t understand why she would be receiving mislabeled seeds from China in the mail, but at first she didn’t think much of it.
She posted about the strange incident on Facebook, where some of her friends reminded her plants and seeds are strictly regulated in Utah.
FOX 13 has confirmed the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food will likely team up with Customs and Border Protection agents to investigate.
An employee with the Utah Department of Agriculture picked up the seeds within a few hours of learning about the incident.
Culley said she was surprised to learn the same thing has happened to “at least 40 people” who either publicly commented or privately responded to her post. Most of them live in Tooele.
Now Culley wonders how many people might have been so curious about the seeds that they decided to plant them.
“There was an article that I found in the UK saying this has been happening over there, and they are bad seeds, they are invasive,” Culley said. “I hope that it’s nothing too serious… don’t throw them in the garbage. Don’t plant them. Don’t touch them.”
Employees with the Utah Department of Agriculture encouraged anyone who received mysterious seeds in the mail to please give them a call so they can pick up the mail for further investigation.
“I mean there’s even a possibility it could be a drug or something!” Culley said. “It just smells – it doesn’t sound right.”