CSU Extension warns residents of unsolicited seeds received in mail


WILBERFORCE — Unsolicited packets of seed received in the mail should not be planted and could potentially contain invasive plant species, according to the Central State University Extension.

“The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has been notified that several Ohio residents have received unsolicited packages in the mail containing seeds that appear to have originated from China,” said Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Leader Cindy Folck, Ph.D. “The types of seeds in the packages are currently unknown and may contain invasive plant species. Similar seed packets have been received recently in several other locations across the United States.”

Anyone receiving a seed packet in the mail should not plant the seeds, should not open the sealed package, nor should they throw them in the trash, she said.

Unsolicited seed packets can be burned or reported to the Ohio Department of Agriculture at www.agri.ohio.gov or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Anti-smuggling Hotline by calling 800-877-3835 or by emailing SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.

Recipients of seed packets who choose to report them are asked retain the original packaging as that information may be useful to train compliance officers as they work through this issue.

Folck said that invasive seeds pose several critical dangers to agriculture and the natural environment.

“Unsolicited seeds could be invasive species, contain noxious weeds, could introduce diseases to local plants, or could be harmful to livestock. Invasive species and noxious weeds can displace native plants and increase costs of food production,” she said.

All foreign seeds shipped to the United States should have a phytosanitary certificate that guarantees the seeds meet important requirements.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and state departments of agriculture to investigate the situation, Folck said.

The USDA will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.