Multiple states, including OK, warn not to use unsolicited packages of seeds sent through the mail

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Agriculture officials in multiple states have issued warnings about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them over concerns that they could be an invasive plant species.

Here in the Sooner State, the agriculture department says it was notified that several Oklahoma residents received unsolicited seed packets sent by mail that appeared to have originated in China. Many of the packets have Chinese writing on them.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry said Monday the types of seeds are unknown and could be harmful. They stressed that the seeds should not be planted.

Several Virginia residents have informed the department that they have received packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have come from China. In an email, the department states that the type of seeds in the packages are unknown and “may be invasive plant species.” (photos provided by the VDACS)
Several Virginia residents have received packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have come from China. In an email, the department states that the type of seeds in the packages are unknown and “may be invasive plant species.” (photos provided by the VDACS)

In North Carolina, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says it was contacted by numerous people who received seed shipments they did not order.

Departments of Agriculture in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio have warned about the seed packets as well.

Unsolicited seeds could be invasive species, contain noxious weeds, could introduce diseases to local plants or could be harmful to livestock.

Invasive species and noxious weeds can displace native plants and increase costs of food production. All foreign seeds shipped to the United States should have a phytosanitary certificate which guarantees the seeds meet U.S. requirements.

This is from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture: Please follow these directions if you do receive any suspect seeds.

A. IF THE PACKAGE HAS BEEN OPENED

  1. Place all of the contents of the package, including the seeds and the originally packaging material in a Ziplock bag. Please write your name and city on the outside of the Ziplock bag.
  2. Send an email to morgan.vance@ag.ok.gov and Kenny.naylor@ag.ok.gov stating your location and that you have received a package.
    B. IF THE SEEDS HAVE BEEN PLANTED
  3. Dig up the seeds or the sprout, knock off any excess soil, double bag the contents and place in a box or mailer. Please write your name and city on the Ziplock bag.
    C. TO DISPOSE OF THE SEEDS:
    Choose from one of these three options
  4. Please mail the seeds to
    Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry
    C/O Agriculture Smuggling Seeds
    2800 N. Lincoln Blvd.
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105
  5. Drop off the seeds in person at the front desk of ODAFF:
    Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry
    2800 N. Lincoln Blvd.
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105
  6. Drop off the seeds and the original packaging in the Ziplock bag at your local County Extension Office
    The list of offices, complete with addresses and phone numbers, can be found at https://extension.okstate.edu/county/index.html
    Please call your extension office before dropping off to make an appointment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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