Mystery Seed Packets

News stories about people receiving packages of unlabeled seeds that they did not order have been everywhere this week. While most reports have been about packages that appear to have been sent through China Post, a few reports have come in about packages sent from Vietnam, the Solomon Islands, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The shipping label may say the package contains jewelry, earbuds, or toys, or there may be no description. Instead, the packages contain small plastic bags of unidentified seeds.

If you receive one of these packages, keep the original packaging, and store the seed packets in a glass jar or plastic storage container. Do not plant these seeds, and do not throw them away. There are a variety of unidentified seeds being sent out, and they may be seeds of invasive species.

Anyone receiving a package of seeds should report it to the USDA APHIS Smiggling & Interdiction Service. If you receive a package of seeds and live in New York State, the local contact is Erich Glasgow, USDA APHIS Smuggling & Interdiction Supervisor (erich.l.glasgow@usda.gov).

If you live outside New York State, contact your state’s Department of Agriculture, or contact the USDA-APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) through their agricultural smuggling hotline at 1-800-877-3835, or by email: SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.

For any reports, please include your name, phone number and other contact information, any pictures you have of the packaging and seeds, and any other information you wish to include about the situation. It may take some time to receive a response your inquiry, but the USDA will be in touch with you to arrange a time for someone to come pick up the seeds.

New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/26/us/seeds-from-china-mail.html

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