People across the nation have found mysterious packets of seeds from China in their mailboxes over the past several months.
Officials are warning people not to open them and to turn them into local agriculture commissioners.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the concern is that the seeds, which have arrived in all 50 states in small packages with Chinese writing on the outside, could contain viruses or bacteria or they could be an invasive species. The Department of Homeland Security is also involved in investigating the seed deliveries.
“At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales,” a USDA press release reads. “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.”
San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican says the seeds can present a danger to valley agriculture by spreading an infection to local crops.
“Those crops [would] have to be destroyed,” he said. “The soil itself is put under quarantine and so it could be awhile before anything is planted back or there will be restrictions on what can be planted in those particular fields.”
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