The Washington State Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have asked the public to turn in any seeds they believe to have been shipped to the United States illegally.
Residents throughout the country have recently reported receiving unexpected shipments of unidentified seeds from China.
“Some people reported ordering the seeds but they did not know the seeds would be coming from another country. Others had not ordered the seeds at all,” according to a news release from the WSDA. “Mislabeling packages in order to get seeds and other plant materials into the country is agricultural smuggling. This bypasses the safeguards that prevent invasive species, plant diseases and pests, or plants that could harm livestock from establishing in the country. Seeds and plants that are smuggled into the country could do serious harm to farms, gardens, and the environment.”
The USDA is directing anyone who has received such shipments to place the seeds and their packaging in a plastic bag, then put the bag in a mailing envelop and send it to the USDA at the following address.
USDA-APHIS-PPQ – Attn: Jason Allen
Seattle Plant Inspection Station
835 South 192nd Street, Bldg D, Ste 1600
Seatac, WA 98148.
Anyone who has planted the seeds is directed to leave them where they are and contact the APHIS STate Plant Health Director.
“WSDA first learned of the illegal seed shipments on July 24, when two separate individuals reported receiving seeds they did not order and which appeared to be from China. After posting an alert on social media, the agency received hundreds of similar reports. Almost all of the reports the agency received had ‘China Post’ on the label, but a few reports have involved other countries as well,” according to the press release.
The USDA believes this is a “brushing scam” in which p people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.
“USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment,” the news release states.