July 28 2020

Police Warning About Strange Seed Packages After One Reported in Burlington

By: Rich Hosford

Authorities are warning that if you receive a strange packet of seeds in the mail, as at least one Burlington resident has, not to plant them. 


“USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China,” the United States Department of Agriculture said in a statement. “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 USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director


“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,” the statement reads. “Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.”


On Tuesday, the Burlington Police Department shared a news story about the seeds on Twitter and said there has been a reported case in town. 


“We have had at least one report in Burlington,” they tweeted. “Please do not plant these.”


The USDA said that at this time, they 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 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.


“USDA is committed to preventing the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds,” the statement reads. “Visit the APHIS’ website to learn more about USDA’s efforts to stop agricultural smuggling and promote trade compliance.”


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