Clemson warns South Carolinians about mystery seed mailings

Clemson warns South Carolinians about mystery seed mailings
Unsolicited packages of seeds, many involving addresses from China, have been reported to agriculture officials by U.S. citizens from coast to coast. (Source: Washington State Department of Agriculture via Clemson)

CLEMSON, S.C. (WCSC) - If you received packages of seeds you did not order, officials with The South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Clemson University’s Regulatory Services division are warning people to avoid opening or handling them.

Similar reports, many involving addresses from China, have come in across the country, according to a release from the university.

The USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service 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 ecosystems.
  • Retain the seeds and packaging and put them in a zip-top bag.
  • Contact the APHIS Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance program.

“Whatever the reason for these mailings, it’s important to use caution when it comes to unidentified seeds,” South Carolina Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Derek Underwood said. Underwood oversees the agency’s Consumer Protection Division.

Steve Cole, director of Clemson Regulatory Services Unit Director Steve Cole said if the seeds bear an invasive species, they may be a threat to our environment and agriculture.

“We don’t want unknown species planted or thrown out where they may wind up sprouting in a landfill,” he said.

Answers to further questions may obtained from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Seed Lab though email at seedlab@scda.sc.gov or by phone at 803-737-9717, Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry. You can also reach out to an area Clemson Extension Office.

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