North Dakotans receiving unsolicited seeds in mail

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:35 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The number of states and North Dakota residents receiving unsolicited packages of seeds from China is increasing.

So far, more than 40 North Dakotans have gotten the mysterious seeds, and only one person has actually planted them. But some are concerned that it’s much more than just random seeds in the mail.

Over the past week, people from all 50 states have received these mysterious seed packages. In response, the USDA and the Department of Homeland Security have launched investigations into the matter. And while they say there's no reason to believe the seeds are a threat, the origins of the seeds are raising some eyebrows.

With more and more recipients of the suspicious seeds, the USDA is trying to calm any concerns of direct harm through the mail.

“We do not have any evidence indicating that this is anything other than a so-called “brushing scam”, where people receive unsolicited products from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost their sales,” said USDA’s Osama El-Lissy.

But who's receiving them? The only common thread connecting the recipients are recent purchases on Amazon.

While things appear harmless to humans, it's our friends on the pastures they're worried about.

“It’s not any particular seed; it’s all-variety types of seeds. And we’re not sure if they’re noxious weeds, if they’re invasive types of plants, if they have a pathogen associated with them that could be harmful to plants or animals,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

Where the seeds are coming from is creating tension as well. While there's no reason to suspect the Chinese government is playing a role, it's not helping mend international markets.

China recently made significant agriculture purchases as part of the Phase 1 Trade Deal. But now they're preparing for Phase 2.

“If this is an effort to thwart that, I’m not sure. Is it being done by someone within the country, or is it being done by someone on the outside just trying to be disruptive?” said Goehring.

A Chinese Spokesperson said this week that the address labels are forged, and the China prohibits seeds being mailed through the post office.

The Ag Department said if you receive these seeds in the mail, don't open them nor through them away. Take pictures of the package and any shipping or labeling information, and contact the state ag department.

They will be offering pre-paid envelopes for shipping the materials.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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