Officials in Mass. warn people about suspicious packages of seeds that appear to be from China

BURLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Several Massachusetts residents have recently received unsolicited packages of suspicious plant seeds that appear to be coming from China, officials announced Tuesday.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is urging residents that receive or have received an unsolicited package of seeds to not plant them and immediately complete a form to provide important information to state plant regulatory officials.

Residents that receive a package should hold on to the seeds and all packaging, including the mailing label. A representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or MDAR will be in contact with instructions regarding the collection or disposal of the seeds.

Police in Burlington say they have received at least one report of someone receiving a package of seeds. They reiterated that these seeds should not be planted.

Agriculture departments in Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington state are among state agencies that have issued similar warnings.

The United States Department of Agriculture said that, “At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.”

They are collecting seed packages from recipients to test their contents to determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment.

Officials say invasive plant species can threaten the integrity of local ecosystems and displace native plants, including rare and endangered species.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation.

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