- At least 27 states have reported finding mysterious seed shipments from China.
- The USDA warned people on Tuesday against planting potentially invasive or harmful specimens.
- Scientists say that in addition to invasive species, the seeds could also contain pathogens or other harmful biogens.
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Dozens of US states have reported mysterious seeds appearing in packaging from China and warning citizens not to plant them as they could be an invasive species.
The United States Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday it was investigating unsolicited seed packets reported by at least 27 states and urged anyone who receives them to contact local farm officials.
“Please save the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State Department of Agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions,” said USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in a press release. “Do not plant seeds of unknown origin. ”
The agency also said the packaging was likely a “brush scam,” where consumers are given packages and a company then forges positive reviews of the products.
But they could also quickly turn into an ecological disaster.
“An invasive plant species may not seem threatening, but these little invaders could destroy Texas agriculture,” Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, said in a press release.
And scientists agree – that’s why the USDA has such strict rules on importing plants and other organic materials.
“The reason people are concerned is – especially if the seed is the seed of a similar crop that is grown for income and food, or for animal feed – that there may be pathogens. plants or insects that are lodged in the seed, ”Carolee Bull, professor in the plant pathology and environmental microbiology program at Penn State, told The New York Times.