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Got a package of seeds from China? Don't open it or plant them, Michigan officials say

"These unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock.”

LANSING, Mich. — Across the United States, there's been reports of people receiving unsolicited packages of seeds from China in the mail. Officials throughout the country, including in Michigan, are warning people not to open or plant the seeds. 

The seeds are showing up in people's mailboxes with Chinese lettering and the words "China Post." Most of the recipients said they did not order anything and the package was labeled as jewelry. Some people said they ordered seeds on Amazon but received these packages.

“If you receive unsolicited seeds from another country, do not plant them. If they are in sealed packaging, do not open the package,” said Mike Philip, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “We don’t know what type of seeds are in the packages, but we do know they come in a variety of sizes and colors, with some reported to be very tiny. These unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock.”

These packages could be a part of a "brushing" scam, the state department says. This scam is when a vendor is trying to boost product ratings, so they ship an inexpensive product then submit positive reviews on the unwitting receiver's behalf.

“If planted, these unknown and potentially invasive species could have a very negative impact on the environment. Additionally, we’re asking people not to throw the seeds or packages away or dispose of them,” added Philip.  

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Smuggling, Interdiction and Trade Compliance Unit is investigating these packages showing up around the country. 

If you receive an unsolicited package of seeds from China, hold on to the seeds, packaging and mailing label, and contact MDARD’s Customer Service Center, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 800-292-3939 or via MDA-Info@michigan.gov.

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