An investigation into mysterious Chinese seed packages sent to thousands of U.S. households has identified them as 14 varieties of herbs, fruits, ornamental flowers, vegetables, and weeds, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated.
The known species include morning glory, cabbage, mustard, mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, hibiscus, and rose, although deputy administrator of the USDAs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Osama El-Lissy noted this “is just a subset of the samples weve collected so far.”
All 50 states issued warnings to residents about unsolicited packages of unknown seeds last week, as residents across the country reported receiving seeds in mail packages that often indicate jewelry or toys inside—none of which they ordered.
The USDA confirmed that seed packages were reported in at least 22 states, while other countries, including Canada, Australia, European Union member states, and Taiwan, have also reported similar occurrences in recent weeks.
The packages are mostly handled through China Post, the Chinese regimes official postal delivery service, and the USDA stated that recipients seemed to be those who recently made purchases online.
While some have wondered if this is an act of agro-terrorism, the agency, which is still collecting and testing “as many seeds as possible,” has found no evidence suggesting this is anything other than a “brushing scam.” The marketing scheme refers to sellers sending unsolicited items to a residential address to qualify them as a “verified buyer,” then posing as customers to post false positive reviews and boost sales.
Officials have warned that seeds that come in the mail may carry invasive pests and diseases, and online purchases of plant products could also be illegal without proper paperwork.
Julie, a resident from Queens, New York, said she has received five packages with unknown seeds in recent weeks.