China sent mysterious parcels to Americans

Cheryl Sanders
August 6, 2020

Within the last few years, Santa Maria resident Mike Brown has ordered hundreds of items from Wish, an e-commerce platform where Brown said you can order pretty much anything at lower than market rates, so long as you're willing to wait longer than usual for shipping.

Kelly Dean of local broadcast network WBKO reports that Lowery was one of the many people across America to receive mysterious, unsolicited packages of seeds with Chinese postage. The USDA received reports from 22 states and sent out a warning to not plant the seeds and notify officials of the packages. "We want to work with the community to ensure that none of these seeds present a problem for our native plants and agriculture and we thank everyone in advance for their cooperation".

The department of agriculture is removing the plant from his property to study it. "Crenshaw told the outlet the seeds came in a package from China labelled as "'studded earrings".

"We brought them down here and planted the seeds just to see what would happen", Crenshaw told the local CBS affiliate.

SLO County's Department of Agriculture had also received about 20 reports as of August 3, and Deputy Ag Commissioner Edwin Moscoso said the calls are still coming in. Since it is illegal to ship seeds unless they meet the import requirements of the United States - including proper labeling with the name of the shipper, the type of seed, and certification where required - the small packets are sent mislabeled in order to pass through Customs undetected.

State agriculture officials said the seeds - many of which have been labeled as jewelry - may be part of a scam known as "brushing", in which companies boost online sales by purchasing products using fake buyer accounts.

What should you do if you received a package of seeds?

Even if you've already planted or opened the seeds, you should still call your local ag department for further instruction, Moscoso said.

Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Scott Bray told the local news outlet that the seeds "could introduce an invasive weed, or an invasive insect pest or a plant disease". It's important to wash the container over a sink or other container to catch the run-off.

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