Georgia AG Commissioner Warns of Unsolicited Packages of Seeds mailed from China

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR

2020 just gets weirder and weirder.

People across the country are now reporting receiving packages of seeds in the mail from China that they never ordered and now they’re also showing up in Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has been notified that Georgia residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China.

And it’s not one kind of seed.  People have received different kinds of seeds in the mail – all from China – all unsolicited.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black tells WNEG News more and more cases have been reported in Georgia of people receiving these seeds.

“We’re adding to the recipient list by the minute it seems but I would say from the standpoint of our office it’s in the scores – approaching hundreds,” he said.

Black said the seeds might be some kind of invasive plant species such as kudzu, but no one knows at this time.

He said the seeds his office has received are being tested at the Department of Agriculture’s lab in Tifton.

Black advises anyone who received a package in the mail from China that they did not order, to first, not open it.

“The first thing you ought to ask yourself is, ‘have I ordered something in this size package,’” he said. “So, before you ever even open the package, be aware and be wise. Look at the package and the labeling and if it doesn’t associate with anything you ordered (online) don’t open it.”

Second, Black advises you treat the package itself and whatever is inside as a possible biohazard.

“Most importantly, at least put it in one ziplock plastic bag. And I would double seal it and handle it with tongs or gloves,” Black advised. “I would treat it with great respect and I don’t think it’s an overkill to say you don’t know what it is, so treat it as something harmful.”

Black said you should then send it to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, or call or email them and ask them to come to pick it up, but you also can take it to your local county extension agent office where it will be forwarded to the Ag Dept.

He said right now it’s too soon to tell if this is some kind of agricultural smuggling operation.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is also investigating and according to their web site is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection to prevent the unlawful entry of prohibited seeds and protect U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and noxious weeds.

In addition to Georgia, the seeds have also shown up in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, and Washington State.