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Pennsylvania: If you receive unordered seeds from China in the mail, don't plant them. Here's why

“Planting seeds without knowing what they are can wreak havoc with our environment, destroy agricultural crops and incur costly control efforts for years to come.”
Credit: Ohio Department of Agriculture

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding is warning residents to properly dispose of and report unordered and mislabeled seeds shipped from overseas.

People nationwide have received seeds in packages labeled as jewelry. 

These seeds may contain plant diseases, weeds or invasive plants that could harm Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry and ecosystem.

“Seeds sold in Pennsylvania are rigorously tested to ensure that they are genetically pure and regulated to ensure that what’s on the label is what’s in the package,” Secretary Redding said. “Planting seeds without knowing what they are can wreak havoc with our environment, destroy agricultural crops and incur costly control efforts for years to come.”

Seeds labeled as jewelry are likely a scam known as "brushing.” Companies boost online sales by purchasing their own products through fake buyer accounts created by the company. The products are shipped to a real address, to someone who didn’t order the item. The seller writes a positive review of their items from the fake buyer account.

In the past, scammers have sent empty packages. Recent packages have been filled with unlabeled seeds.

Consumers who receive unsolicited seeds are asked to retain the seeds and packaging. If opened, double bag and seal the seeds. Do not plant them or discard loose seeds.

Report the package to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) confidential Antismuggling Hotline, 800-877-3835 or email SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.

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