New Delhi: Global news publications have reported that people across the US have received unsolicited packages containing seeds, seemingly from China. Officials have issued warnings on these seeds and instructed recipients not to plant them.
The US Department of Agriculture has said it is working closely with the customs and border officials, federal agencies and state governments to investigate this.
“USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (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,” the organisation said.
“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,” it added.
APHIS Tuesday also took to Twitter to warn citizens and instruct them to report any such package to the State Department of Agriculture or the State Plant Health Office.
#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
Canadians citizens have also received these seed packages, prompting the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to issue a warning.
“Do not plant seeds from unknown origins. Unauthorized seeds could be the seeds of invasive plants, or carry plant pests, which can be harmful when introduced into Canada. These species can invade agricultural and natural areas, causing serious damage to our plant resources,” the agency said Tuesday.
The USDA Tuesday said it 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.”
It added that “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.”
The North Carolina officials of the department of agriculture and consumer services in a press release Monday had also said that the unordered shipments were likely a product of brushing.
The Chinese foreign ministry Tuesday said the labels in the packages appear “forged” and the information on them has “errors”.
Spokesperson Wang Wenbin added that “China Post has asked the United States Postal Service to return this faked mail to China so China can investigate”. He added that the Chinese postal service has strictly adhered to the Universal Postal Union’s rules about handling seeds.
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