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

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The State of Illinois has released the following statement:

A Statement from the Illinois Department of Agriculture regarding the mailing of unsolicited seeds:

“We are currently working with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to address reports of unsolicited shipments of seeds from foreign countries. 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. Please keep all seeds unopened and with their original packaging and labels, including mailing labels, until further instruction is provided.”

Original story:

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.

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

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said Monday the types of seeds are unknown and could be harmful. He 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 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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