The Illinois Department of Agriculture is warning residents throughout the state and asking them not to open any unsolicited package of seeds from China or any other foreign country.
“We are currently working with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to address reports of unsolicited shipments of seeds from foreign countries,” the IDOA said in a statement released July 28.
Anyone who receives unordered seeds in the mail should contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture by emailing the following information to agr.seeds@Illinois.gov: First and Last Name, Phone Number and the number of packages received.
“Do not open the package, plant the seeds, or throw them out,” state officials said. “Please keep all seeds unopened and with their original packaging and labels, including mailing labels, until further instruction is provided.”
United States Department of Agriculture officials said they are aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China.
“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,” the USDA says in its news release.
“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 officials said.
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.
Visit the APHIS’ website to learn more about USDA’s efforts to stop agricultural smuggling and promote trade compliance.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Twitter Post
#APHIS is working closely with @CBP and State Depts of Ag re: unrequested seeds. If received, pls contact State Dept of Ag https://t.co/g0WhR57Wv3 or the #APHIS State Plant Health Office https://t.co/CdHtWghDbC. Keep packaging and do not plant seeds from an unknown origin! pic.twitter.com/LORKeTh4Tc
— USDA APHIS (@USDA_APHIS) July 27, 2020