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Unsolicited Chinese seeds make their way to Kentucky mailboxes

By Chad Hobbs

 For you frequent social media, you have more than likely seen posts from various states warning of unsolicited packages showing up at houses in numerous states postmarked from China, claiming to contain various forms of jewelry. Upon opening, the recipients of these packages of found baggies of various unidentified seeds.

 Just a few weeks ago, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles issued a warning for the state of Kentucky, regarding these suspicious packages now finding their way into the Commonwealth. Last Friday, Quarles released an update regarding USDA guidance on these foreign seeds.

 “The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails since Monday about unsolicited packages of seeds from foreign countries,” Commissioner Quarles said. “While the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not received any indication that this could be anything more than a marketing scam, they continue to investigate this matter and provide guidance on what steps Kentuckians should take should they receive unsolicited seeds. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is dedicated to sharing the best information with the public when we have it, and we encourage Kentuckians to visit to stay current with the latest on this unusual situation.”

 If you should receive one of these packages, individuals are being asked to place them in an airtight bag and send them to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) at: USDA-APHIS PPQ, P.O. Box 475, Hebron, KY 41048.

 The motivation behind these strange packages is still being investigated. At this time, caution is being advised. These seeds could be an invasive species, could harbor diseases harmful to native crops or plants, or could be part of a marketing scam. Until the intent is determined, Quarles has advised the seeds not to be planted under any circumstances and to wash your hands thoroughly if you come in contact with one of these packages.

 “The message is the same: Do not plant unsolicited seeds,” Commissioner Quarles said. “If you have planted these seeds already, we are awaiting guidance from USDA about how to proceed. Once we have an update, we will be sure to let the public know.”