Anyone who receives a package in the mail with unsolicited seeds from China is encouraged not to plant them, but to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office in Lincoln.
According to John Thomas, Nebraska Extension Educator based in Alliance, Extension has been receiving some inquiries about the seeds, and has received the following guidance from the Lincoln APHIS office:
Anyone receiving the seeds should call the Lincoln APHIS office at (402) 434-2346 for additional instruction.
USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. APHIS is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation.
Please 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.
At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales. USDA is collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.
USDA is committed to preventing the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.