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New online system available to report unsolicited seed packages from China

Photos of packaging and unsolicited seeds received by Alabama residents.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries on Tuesday said it is continuing to collect reports from Alabamians who received unsolicited packages from China containing seeds. ADAI has established an online reporting system for residents who received suspicious seeds they did not order.

The department provided the following guidance: Do not plant the mystery seeds. Do not dump them on the ground or release them into the environment. Do not dispose of the seeds and do not open a sealed package. Report any unordered seed packets to ADAI. At the end of the online form, consumers will be given directions on how to store the seeds properly until contacted by ADAI.

Maintain the seeds, mailing labels and packaging until someone from AGAI or USDA contacts you. This may be used for evidence.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has received multiple reports of “unsolicited” seeds of Chinese origin being delivered to residents across the state through the United States Postal Service. The packing is often mislabeled as “jewelry.”

So far, residents from several other states including Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington State have all reported receiving suspicious packages of seeds. This practice is known as agricultural smuggling.

“We urge all residents to be on the lookout for similar packages. These seeds could be invasive or be harmful to livestock,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be releasing official guidance including additional instructions for reporting unsolicited seeds. These instructions will be shared as soon as possible.

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Currently, there is not 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.

ADAI is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and is testing its contents for unknown compounds, noxious weed seed and invasive species. This testing will determine if they contain anything that could negatively impact U.S. agriculture or the environment.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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