Across 28 states, some people are finding items in their mailboxes that they didn’t order. Far from being an exciting gift delivered to the wrong home, these tiny packages are nothing more than mystery seeds.
Nobody knows exactly where these seeds are coming from, except that they’re being mailed from China. While they might sound harmless, the mystery surrounding the unexpected delivery of these items has led officials across the US to warn people to turn their seeds in if they receive any.
This week, the agricultural departments in various states have released multiple statements saying that there had been reports of residents receiving packages of seeds that they hadn’t ordered.
Reported by NBC News, the Delaware Department of Agriculture said in a statement Monday:
“Based on information provided by constituents, the packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them. All contained some sort of seed packet either alone, with jewelry, or another inexpensive item.”
So far, the states that have received police notices about the unsolicited seeds are Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington state, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Most of the seeds have been delivered in white envelopes by China Post. They are untracked and have Chinese lettering in the text portion of the parcel. Ohio has received similar envelopes, but in yellow.
The majority of the packages are labelled as having toys or jewelry inside, but though some have a small piece of jewelry in them, they largely contain bags of different types of seeds. Nobody knows for sure what kinds of seeds are in the packets, and testing is being done.
The mysterious parcels have prompted an investigation by the U.S Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and state departments of agriculture.
Speaking to WWLTV, Dr. Mike Strain of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said:
“Some company or some entity has spent a considerable amount of money spending seeds across the United States. Our main concern is that we want to make sure that we don’t get some type of plant pest or disease that would come from these seeds and would come endemic in our crops.
“For instance, if you get a field that has a new invasive species in it, generally speaking, you have to destroy the entire field. So, it could have a major impact overall on our crops and our economy.”
While many officials are echoing Dr. Mike Strain’s concerns, there is also a possibility that this may simply be the act of a brushing scam.
This is where a seller creates fake customer accounts, buys their own products, then mails out their products to random customers around the world. After this, they can then leave positive reviews in the customers’ name, helping to boost their overall online presence. Because they have real registered deliveries, they can pose their reviews as being completely genuine.
The likes of Amazon and AliExpress both require a verified order and shipping information to be able to post a positive review, and brushing scams are one way to get around this.
Until anybody knows for sure, officials are warning residents not to use their seeds, which, because they have come from foreign countries, aren’t permitted for use in the US. Mississippi’s Republican Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson posted an image of the seeds to Facebook, alongside the caption:
“Our office has received contact from a few Mississippians reporting the arrival of unidentified seeds. If you receive seeds from China, DO NOT PLANT THEM. And don’t throw them in the trash. Please contact our Bureau of Plant Industry Office and report the seeds at 662-325-3390. We are developing a protocol for the best way to deal with them.”
Whether this turns out to be nothing more than an act of goodwill, or something a lot more dangerous, we’re yet to find out. But it’s certainly wise to follow the advice of the government and hand in anything that you receive unexpectedly from China.
You can learn more about the mystery seeds in the video below.
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