Across the state and nation, residents have reported receiving unsolicited packages of what appears to be seeds from foreign countries, usually China. The Missouri Department of Agriculture said reports to that agency are consistent with nationwide reports stating the packages were labeled as jewelry, specifically stud earrings, bracelets and other accessories.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture is asking any Missourian who receives a package to take the recommended steps to “prevent the introduction of invasive species into Missouri to ensure the safety of the environment, livestock and plants. The full risk associated with the seeds in question is unknown at this time. However, the seeds could be an invasive species that has the potential to destroy native plants and damage crops. Invasive species can also introduce diseases to plants and may be harmful to livestock,” according to a press release.
The agency has released the following guidelines:Do not open the seed package. Do not plant the seeds if you have opened the package. Submit an online report to USDA verifying you have received unsolicited seeds. Do not dispose of the seeds, packages or envelopes until USDA provides further guidance.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said there is no evidence the seeds are anything more than a scam.
According to the statement, “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 currently 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.”
According to a press release, “The Missouri Department of Agriculture is playing a cooperative role in USDA’s investigation; however, USDA is leading the effort from the federal level. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is also working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection to prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.”
If opened, place seeds in a sealed bag and contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at 573- 751-2462 or by email at email@example.com.