Suspicious seeds are turning up in mailboxes across North America, and officials in Canada and U.S. are begging people not to plant them.
Like most people, I get plenty of random things in the mail. Holiday greeting cards from politicians, requests for donations from local religious groups, and offers to evaluate my home from realtors. But unsolicited packets of seeds? Never.
But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is investigating reports of people receiving the mystery seed packets in the mail. They’re arriving from China and Taiwan.
In a statement, the CFIA says planting seeds from unknown sources is dangerous. These seeds could be from invasive plants or carry various pests or diseases that can be harmful to native species in Canada.
Whatever you do, don’t plant them! If you receive unsolicited seeds in the mail, contact your regional CFIA office right away.
If you receive an unsolicited shipment of foreign seeds in the mail from China or Taiwan DO NOT plant or dispose of them. Call the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) at 519 691-1306 or 1 800 442-2342. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive & threaten our environment. ^kj pic.twitter.com/n5hvlFS1W8
— OPP Central Region (@OPP_CR) July 28, 2020
South of the border, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Agency (APHIS) is also investigating similar cases.
It says it’s working closely with border protection officials and other federal agencies to figure out what they are and who is sending them.
The APHIS says it believes the packages are part of a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive things they never ordered from a seller who posts false customer reviews to boost sales.
Still, the seed pouches received by Americans are being tested to see if they pose any risk to the environment. If you live in the U.S. and receive something like this in the mail, contact the APHIS State plant health director.