Unsolicited packages of seeds from China are arriving in mailboxes around the country. More than 20 state departments of agriculture, including Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois are warning that the seeds could potentially be harmful.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture posted on Monday that packages have been reported across the state, and says the unidentified seeds could be potentially invasive, introduce diseases to plants or be harmful to livestock. Oklahoma Department of Agriculture spokesperson Morgan Vance declined to give a number of instances of packages arriving in the state, but says the department is taking precautions.
“Our ultimate goal is to protect Oklahoma agriculture producers, and we certainly care about ensuring the safety of our state soil health and take invasive species and invasive pest reports very seriously,” Vance says.
Vance says anyone who receives a package should not plant or throw the seeds in the trash. Instead, he asks people to report it to the USDA Animal and Health Inspection Service by calling 800-877-3835.
In Oklahoma, recipients are also asked to email email@example.com or Kenny.firstname.lastname@example.org. Seeds can be mailed or dropped off at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture or by dropping off the seeds and the original packaging in a ziplock bag to a local county Extension office.
In Illinois, officials advise seed recipients to email agr.seeds@Illinois.gov with their first and last name, phone number and the number of packages received. They also urge recipients to hang on to the seeds in their original packaging and mailing labels until further instruction.