FOX 11 -- People around the country have been receiving mysterious packets of seeds in the mail. UCR Plant physiologist Milt McGiffen explains (view video) why it's a bad idea to put these seeds in the ground.
Agriculture departments across the country are investigating after mysterious unsolicited packages of seeds reportedly sent from China have been delivered to homes in at least thirty one states including California.
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. The types of seeds are unknown and could be harmful, he said.
The commissioner stressed that the seeds should not be planted. "We don't know what they are, and we cannot risk any harm whatsoever to agricultural production in the United States," he said.
"We have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world and we need to keep it that way."
"At this point in time, we don't have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism," he said.
"Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment."
Several other states have also received suspicious packages of seeds that appear to have originated from China, news outlets reported.
"According to the Better Business Bureau, foreign, third-party sellers use your address and Amazon information to generate a fake sale and positive review to boost their product ratings," said Phil Wilson, director of the state's Plant Industry Division.
The California Department of Agriculture agrees and put out a statement that says in part:
“CDFA is instructing residents not to open any unsolicited seed packets received and to contact their local county agricultural commissioner’s office. Seed packets should not be opened, shipped, or disposed of by residents in order to prevent potential dispersal of invasive species and/or quarantine pests.”
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