WARNING: Do not plant or dispose of unsolicited packages of unidentified seeds

If you have received an unsolicited package of unidentified seeds by mail, the office of the Indiana State Chemist at Purdue University is warning you not to plant or dispose of the seeds. Agricultural officials believe that the seeds are coming from China.

Posted: Jul 28, 2020 11:52 PM
Updated: Jul 29, 2020 12:43 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- If you have received an unsolicited package of unidentified seeds by mail, the office of the Indiana State Chemist at Purdue University is warning you not to plant or dispose of the seeds.

Anyone in Indiana who receives a package is not to open the seed packet and to mail it and any packaging materials to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Indiana office. State and federal authorities will work together to identify and properly dispose of all seeds and plant materials.

Agricultural officials believe the seeds are part of a "brushing" campaign in which online retailers send out unsolicited packages and use the fake sales to improve the seller's ratings in the marketplace. They believe that the seeds are coming from China because the packaging has Chinese writing on it. 

“It might be tempting to put this into some soil to see what happens, but there’s a lot of damage that can cause,” said Don Robison, seed administrator for the Office of Indiana State Chemist. “We don’t know what these seeds are, and there is potential for doing serious harm to everything from your backyard garden to the commodity and specialty crops that are such an important part of the agricultural economy. The last thing we want is to spread a weed, invasive species or disease, and that’s a real risk if people plant these or throw them in the garbage.”

So far agricultural officials say that neither corn nor soybeans have been sent to people but that wheat seeds have. The seeds are only being sent through USPS, not FedEx or UPS.

Anyone who receives unsolicited seeds should keep the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, but do not open the seed packet. After that place all contents in a zip-top bag, then place the bag in an envelope or small box and mail it to USDA APHIS PPQ State Plant Health Director Nick Johnson at 3059 N. Morton St. 3059 N. Morton St. Franklin, IN 46131.

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