By Miriam Raftery
July 28, 2020 (La Mesa) – Across the U.S., residents in at least 31 states have begun receiving mysterious packages of seeds from China. A La Mesa resident is among those to receive the unsolicited and potentially dangerous seeds, according to a photo and post on a local social media site.
If you receive unsolicited seeds from China, agricultural officials urge that that you do NOT plant them. Instead, take a photo and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then double bag and drop the package off at 9321 Hazard Way, San Diego. Call (858)694-2739 with any questions.
Authorities don’t yet know if the seeds may be invasive species that could be harmful to agriculture or native plants, USA Today reported yesterday.
Kentucky Agriculture Director Ryan Quarles told CBS earlier this month, "At this point in time, we don't have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment."
North Carolina’s Plant Industry Division director Phil Wilson has speculated that the shipments could be part of an internet scam known as “brushing” to generate fake sales and positive reviews of products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with state and federal agency partners to determine what type of seeds are in the packages. "USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China," the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said in a statement Tuesday.