“Our office has received questions from a few New Yorkers who have received unsolicited packages allegedly sent from China that are marked as containing jewelry (or other items) but which actually contain plant seeds. Similar packages have been received in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture is investigating. People who receive seeds should not plant or handle the seeds. They should store them safely in a place children and pets cannot access and email USDA immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions. Seeds imported into the United States are rigorously tested to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. We will continue to monitor this issue and will pass along guidance as it is received from USDA.” – Statement from Richard A. Ball, New York State Commissioner of Agriculture
The above statement from Commissioner Ball comes as the number of mysterious packages, which have been received by people across the country for a while now, has increased recently.
To date, we don’t know what kind of seeds they are of if they might be carrying some kind of plant pathogen. The recommendation from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is to immediately email the USDA and hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.
APHIS ends their press release on the subject with “USDA is committed to preventing the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds. Visit the APHIS website to learn more about USDA’s efforts to stop agricultural smuggling and promote trade compliance.”.
At the NYS IPM Program, research, demonstrations, education, and outreach are part of a comprehensive plan to make IPM the safe, effective pest management solution for all New Yorkers. For more information about our efforts to combat invasive species, visit our Invasives Species page. For updates on this, and other pest related subjects, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This post contributed by Joellen Lampman, School and Turfgrass IPM Extension Support Specialist, NYS IPM Program. See her post on the NYS IPM blog, http://blogs.cornell.edu/nysipm/2020/07/28/mysterious-package-from-china-dont-handle-the-seeds/