Mysterious seeds sent from China to US identified by Trump administration

Authorities believe the packages were sent as part of a ‘brushing’ scam meant to drive up sales of online products through fake reviews

China asks US to send back mysterious seed parcels so that it can investigate

The mysterious seed packs from China that hundreds of Americans received in the mail have been identified, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Federal officials warned those who received the seeds not to plant them over fears that some may be invasive species and could destroy native plants and insects.

Osama El-Lissy, a member of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said officials had identified more than a dozen plant species included in the seed packets.

“We have identified 14 different species of seeds, including mustard, cabbage, morning glory and some herbs, like mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, and then other seeds like hibiscus and roses,” he said.

Authorities believe the seed packets may be part of an online money-making scam that likely originated in China.

“At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales,” a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said.

The USDA is working alongside the US Department of Homeland Security to investigate the packages.

“USDA is currently collecting seed packaged from recipients and will test their contents to determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to US agriculture or the environment,” the statement said.

Packages have been mailed to addresses in all 50 states as well as to addresses across Canada.

Many of the packages had shipping information printed in Chinese characters on the bags, some of which were misprinted and described objects like bracelets or rings.

Most of the packets appear — according to the address labels — to have come from the Chinese cities of Suzhou.

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said last week that the Chinese mail service was working with the US Postal Service to have some of the packages shipped back to China for analysis.

The spokesperson claimed that the address labels on the package were forged.

Despite many of the seeds being identified, the USDA is still asking anyone who receives the seeds not to plant them. They recommend storing the seeds away from dogs and children and reporting them to the agency.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in