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Recently people across the U.S. have received unexpected packages of seeds from China in the mail. The packages often are marked to indicate that they contain jewelry. Do not open, handle or plant the seeds. Currently, the USDA and NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets are asking New Yorkers to submit an online report and to mail the sealed package of seeds, original packaging, their contact information, and any additional relevant details directly to: Office of the State Plant Health Director of New York c/o Christopher Zaloga, USDA, 500 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205. Seeds imported into the United States are rigorously tested to ensure quality and prevent the introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. The New York State Dept. of Agriculture & Markets is monitoring this issue and will pass along guidance as it is received from USDA.
"Due to the high volume of inquiries and reports from residents receiving unsolicited, mislabeled and/or unlabeled packages of seed in the mail, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, along with the United States Department of Agriculture, are asking that New Yorkers please mail the sealed package of seeds, the original packaging, the residents’ contact information, and any additional relevant details directly to the USDA at:
Office of the State Plant Health Director of New York c/o Christopher Zaloga,
United States Department of Agriculture
500 New Karner Road
Albany, NY 12205
Those who receive seeds should not use 9-1-1 to report the receipt of seeds.
The USDA is investigating this situation and has stated that it currently does not 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.
Legitimate seeds imported into the United States meet rigorous standards to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. People who receive seeds that they did not order, that are mislabeled, or are from a questionable source, should not plant or handle the seeds.
The Department recommends that if residents buy seeds online, they buy from a reputable, known source. Most seed companies maintain their own e-commerce sites. Purchasing from a known, reputable seed company increases the likelihood of receiving properly labeled seeds that meet germination, sanitation and trueness to variety standards. It also ensures the seeds have met standards that protect plants and agricultural crops from invasive pests and noxious weeds.
Residents can email the USDA at firstname.lastname@example.org"
-Update From New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets on Unsolicited, Mislabeled Packages of Seed Being Sent From Foreign Countries
JULY 30, 2020 | ALBANY, NY
“Our office has received questions from a few New Yorkers who have received unsolicited packages allegedly sent from China that are marked as containing jewelry but which actually contain plant seeds. Similar packages have been received in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture is investigating. People who receive seeds should not plant or handle the seeds. They should store them safely in a place children and pets cannot access and email USDA immediately at email@example.com for instructions. Seeds imported into the United States are rigorously tested to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. We will continue to monitor this issue and will pass along guidance as it is received from USDA.”
-Statement by NYS Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball
July 27, 2020