The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning Americans not to plant unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be arriving from China. States have also told residents not to put the seeds in the ground, after they arrived in the mailboxes of people who did not order them. Officials said the seeds could grow invasive species that threaten crops or livestock.
On Tuesday, the USDA said it was collecting the seeds and would test them to determine if they were a concern to agriculture or the environment, and was working with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection to investigate the packages. The packages “appear to be coming from China,” according to the USDA.
U.S. states, including Washington and Alabama, labeled the shipments as “agricultural smuggling.” Photos distributed by state agriculture departments show seeds of different sizes, shapes and colors in white or yellow envelopes and some packages were labeled as jewelry and may have contained Chinese writing.
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