Wyo Dept. of Ag. warns: Don’t plant mystery seeds from China

JACKSON, Wyo. — It sounds like the opening of a 1950s sci-fi chiller. Just google it: Americans receiving mystery seeds from China.

Unsolicited and undocumented seed packages are showing up in the mail, purportedly sent from China, to residents in Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Virginia, and Louisiana. The UK has reported receiving them as well.

In some instances, the packages are mislabeled as “jewelry.” Mostly they are not labelled at all. None of the recipients report ordering or asking for the product.

Conspiracy theorists have been quick to accuse the Chinese Communist Party or the People’s Republic of China for engaging in biological warfare. At a time when geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China are fragile, it is easy to see how some could suspect the worst and jump t conclusions.

Example of seeds sent to a resident of Virginia. Photo: Courtesy Virginia Department of Agriculture

Snopes, the popular myth-debunking fact-check website has cautioned Americans about speculating the reason behind the mailings, saying there is no evidence supporting harmful motives, but did admit that people are receiving unsolicited packages containing seeds that have not yet been identified.

Both the Wyoming and Washington departments of agriculture believe it serious enough to issue a warning statement for anyone who receives packages from China.

“Like Washington and several other states, we received reports of people in Wyoming receiving seeds in the mail from China that they did not order. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock,” the Wyoming DOA stated in a press release late last week.

Wyoming Department of Agriculture advises anyone who receives unsolicited seeds from another country to not plant them, and if they are in a sealed package, leave it unopened.

Experts are advising people not to plant the seeds, obviously, but also to not simply throw them away (they could end up in the ecosystem, or burn them (they could emit toxic fumes).

Keep the seeds in the packaging and contact USDA-APHIS here in Wyoming at 307-432-7979, or email Bruce Shambaugh to get instructions on what to do next.

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