CHICAGO (News Nation) — Agriculture officials in multiple states have issued warnings about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them over concerns that they could be an invasive plant species.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) sent out a warning that unsolicited seeds are showing up in mailboxes. The ODA’s plea is that the seeds are coming from China and it is unknown as to what they are. The concern is that they could be an invasive plant species.
The packets have been received in several locations across the United States. The ODA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are encouraging people to keep the package and its contents sealed.
A family in Driftwood, Texas said they also received a package of seeds, but weren’t immediately concerned. Meghan Roberts has a garden and said they order seeds daily from multiple sources. For them, the most concerning thing is this supplier knows their address. They have ordered seeds online and wonder if their information was stolen.
“This might just be a small drop in the bucket, a wake-up call to for us to source, buy, and shop seeds locally. Know where your products come from. Pay attention. People need to be aware,” Roberts said.
Some Wisconsin residents have received the unsolicited packages in the mail and health officials in the state echoed similar warnings as those in Ohio.
If the seeds are in sealed packaging, do not open the sealed package. If possible, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) asks individuals to retain the original packaging as it may be useful in investigating the issue.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) issued a warning Friday urging residents in the state to not plant seeds from unsolicited packages as they could be invasive plant species that “wreak havoc on the environment.” The department also cautioned they could have Chinese writing on them.
“Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops,” VDACS wrote in the email. “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.”
In North Carolina, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says it was contacted by numerous people who received seed shipments they did not order.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said they are aware of reports of residents receiving seed packages and will issue more guidance once they hear from the CDC.