SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – A South Hadley resident received a suspicious packet of seeds from China Tuesday after the state department of agriculture issued warnings about similar packages across the country.
This comes a day after agriculture officials in multiple states have issued warnings about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them over concerns that they could be an invasive plant species.
The resident contacted the South Hadley Health Department after receiving the seeds and Sharon Hart, Emergency Management Director of Public Health, then contacted the Massachusetts Department of Public Health who responded with the following information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
According to the news release from the USDA on Tuesday, they are urging anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their state plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Residents should also 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. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.
Any Massachusetts resident who has received an unsolicited package of seeds should immediately contact the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. South Hadley residents are on alert after someone in town got an unexpected delivery inside an unmarked packet of seeds said to be from China.
South Hadley now joins a growing list of states as far away as the west coast where these suspicious seeds have made it to doorsteps. In western Massachusetts, residents did exactly what you’re being asked to do, contact officials, such as the State Plant Regulatory Official, and there are a few other steps to follow.
“Invasive species are a major concern cause they can disrupt our ecology and kill native species,” said Jordan Goodwin of Amherst.
Invasive plant species can threaten the integrity of local ecosystems and displace native plants, including rare and endangered species. The most effective approach to mitigating the risk of invasive plant infestation is to take steps to ensure they are not planted.
At this time the USDA doesn’t have any evidence indicating whether this is something other than a “brushing scam” which is where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.
According to the USDA, they are 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.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 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.