Texas, other states warn not to use unsolicited packages of seeds sent through the mail from China

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Agriculture officials in multiple states have issued warnings about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them over concerns that they could be an invasive plant species.

The Texas Farm Bureau has warned residents to not open the packages, many of which appear to be coming from China. They encourage the following steps to be taken:

  • Do not throw away the package or its contents.
  • Do not plant the seeds.
  • Contact USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

“Those receiving them aren’t sure what to do with them. We’ve been warned that this is a product you should not open,” said Gary Joiner, with the Texas Farm Bureau.

In Kentucky, the agriculture department says it was notified that several Kentucky residents received unsolicited seed packets sent by mail that appeared to have originated in China. Many of the packets have Chinese writing on them.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said Monday the types of seeds are unknown and could be harmful. He stressed that the seeds should not be planted.

Several Virginia residents have informed the department that they have received packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have come from China. In an email, the department states that the type of seeds in the packages are unknown and “may be invasive plant species.” (photos provided by the VDACS)
Several Virginia residents have received packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have come from China. In an email, the department states that the type of seeds in the packages are unknown and “may be invasive plant species.” (photos provided by the VDACS)

In North Carolina, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says it was contacted by numerous people who received seed shipments they did not order.

Departments of Agriculture in Tennessee, Virginia and Ohio have warned about the seed packets as well.

Unsolicited seeds could be invasive species, contain noxious weeds, could introduce diseases to local plants or could be harmful to livestock.

“Right now I think it’s just a matter of identification trying to figure out what they are and getting them back to those folks who can make those judgement,” said Gary Joiner.

Invasive species and noxious weeds can displace native plants and increase costs of food production. All foreign seeds shipped to the United States should have a phytosanitary certificate which guarantees the seeds meet U.S. requirements.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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