Unsolicited seeds

ODA: Do not plant unsolicited packages of seeds

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has been notified that several Ohio residents have received unsolicited packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are currently unknown and may contain invasive plant species. Similar seed packets have been received recently in several other locations across the United States.

If a package of this type is received, please DO NOT plant these seeds. If they are in sealed packaging, do not open the sealed package. Report the seeds to ODA online here or contact the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Anti-smuggling Hotline by calling 800-877-3835 or by emailing [email protected]. Also, if possible, please retain the original packaging, as that information may be useful to trade compliance officers as they work through this issue.

“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’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service said in a stakeholder notice. “USDA 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.”

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. ODA and APHIS work to prevent the introduction of invasive species and protect Ohio agriculture. All foreign seeds shipped to the United States should have a phytosanitary certificate which guarantees the seeds meet important requirements.

Keep up with the latest information regarding this investigation.

Attached are two examples of the unsolicited seed packets that can be used by the media.