The U.S. Department of Agriculture is aware that people across the country and service members abroad have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seeds of various types that appear to be coming from China. 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.
The USDA urges service members located outside of the United States and U.S. territories to devitalize, all seeds using the method described at the end of this article. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.
At this time, there is no 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 in the United States and will test their contents to determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.
The USDA is committed to preventing the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds. Visit at http://www.aphis.usda.gov to learn more about USDA’s efforts to stop agricultural smuggling and promote trade compliance.
Devitalization (destruction) of seeds using dry heat (oven) method:
- Preheat oven to 325F (163C)
- Place seeds in a monolayer on a baking pan (or cookie sheet) lined with tinfoil
- Dispose of empty seed packet in the trash.
- Place seed in pre-heated oven and maintain for 30 min.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool
- Double bag the baked seeds in plastic baggies and dispose of in trash