COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – State agriculture officials are warning South Carolinians about packages of “mystery seeds” being mailed to them.
Eva Moore, the spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, said they have received more than 30 reports of people getting the seeds in the mail. They claim that they did not order the seeds.
There have been similar reports in Virginia and North Carolina of people getting the unsolicited seeds from China.
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The South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Clemson University’s Regulatory Services division are working together to investigate the packages.
"If these seeds should bear invasive species, they may be a threat to our environment and agriculture," said Steve Cole, director of Clemson's Regulatory Services unit. "We don't want unknown species planted or thrown out where they may wind up sprouting in a landfill."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) is collecting reports and coordinating a national investigation.
If you receive an unsolicited package containing seeds:
- Do not open the seed packets or handle the seeds.
- Do not plant unidentified seeds. They may be invasive species that could displace or destroy native plants and insects.
- Retain the seeds and packaging and put them in a zip-top bag.
- Contact the USDA APHIS Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance (SITC) program.
APHIS SITC may be reached at their website, by phone at 800-877-3835 or by email at SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.
The state’s agriculture officials hope to get more guidance from the USDA soon on these mystery seeds.