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Wyoming Residents Report Unsolicited Packages Of Seeds

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Residents in Wyoming and across the country are reporting packages of mysterious seeds showing up at their doorstep, but the recipients never ordered them. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the packages appear to come from China and are labeled to say they contain other items, usually jewelry.

The USDA said the seeds don't appear to be invasive or contain harmful diseases or pests but still encourages caution.

"The main concern is the potential for these seeds to introduce pests and diseases that could be harmful to US agriculture and the environment," said Osama El-Lissy, with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

But El-Lissy said it appears these seeds are likely nothing more than a brushing scam - a tactic used by business owners to increase their average review. They send products to a person and then post a fake review from the "verified customer's" point of view.

If you do receive an unsolicited package from China, officials urge you to not open the package and don't plant the seeds. Keep the seeds and the packaging, including the mailing label, and immediately contact your state plant regulatory official or APHIS State Plant Health Director for next steps. If you've already planted the seeds, don't dig them up. Contact officials and follow their instructions.

"At this time where we're trying to get a better handle on what they are, what risks to agriculture they may pose, and trying to sort out the companies that are sending them and trying to do what we can to put a stop to it," Wyoming State Plant Health Director Bruce Shambaugh said.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Ivy Engel, at iengel@uwyo.edu.

Ivy started as a science news intern in the summer of 2019 and has been hooked on broadcast since. She was supported by the Wyoming EPSCoR Summer Science Journalism Internship program. In the spring of 2020, she virtually graduated from the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in biology with minors of journalism and business. She continues to spread her love of science, wildlife, and the outdoors with her stories. When she’s not writing for WPR, she enjoys baking, reading, playing with her dog, and caring for her many plants.
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