Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A very odd story, people in Utah and Virginia have reported receiving unsolicited packets of seeds from China, mislabelled as Jewellery. Utah and Virginia Agriculture departments are investigating.
Mysterious seeds sent from China to Utah
By: Adam HerbetsPosted at 9:13 PM, Jul 22, 2020 and last updated 3:41 AM, Jul 24, 2020
TOOELE, Utah — Over the past few weeks, people in Utah have been reporting mysterious packages they’ve been receiving in the mail from China.
Lori Culley, who lives in Tooele, said she was excited to find two small packages in her mailbox on Tuesday. Although most of the writing on the outside was in Chinese, the label indicated there would be earrings inside.
“I opened them up and they were seeds,” Culley said. “Obviously they’re not jewelry!”
Culley couldn’t understand why she would be receiving mislabeled seeds from China in the mail, but at first she didn’t think much of it.
She posted about the strange incident on Facebook, where some of her friends reminded her plants and seeds are strictly regulated in Utah.
FOX 13 has confirmed the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food will likely team up with Customs and Border Protection agents to investigate.
…Read more: https://www.fox13now.com/news/local-news/utah-department-of-agriculture-investigates-mysterious-seeds-sent-from-china-to-tooele
The following is a tweet of seeds collected by Virginia Department of Agriculture (h/t Fox News).
Even Snopes accepts that people have been receiving unsolicited packets of seeds from China, though they question people jumping to conclusions, ascribing harmful motives to whoever is sending the seeds.
Virginia Department of Agriculture advises people not to plant the seeds.
July 24, 2020
Public Asked To Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds
Contact: Michael Wallace, 804.786.1904
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has been notified that several Virginia residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.
Please do not plant these seeds. VDACS encourages anyone who has received unsolicited seeds in the mail that appears to have Chinese origin to contact the Office of Plant Industry Services (OPIS) at 804.786.3515 or through the ReportAPest@vdacs.virginia.gov email.
Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.Source: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/press-releases-200724-seeds.shtml
Obviously at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions its easy to suspect the worst. But the seeds could have nothing to do with the Chinese Government. The simple truth is everyone seems to be guessing, nobody seems to have any idea why someone decided to send packets of seeds to random people in the USA.
I think the key takeaway is don’t plant them. Don’t even try to burn them, if they are toxic the smoke from burning even a small number of seeds could harm you. Call your local department of Agriculture to dispose of them safely.
If any botanists out there have any idea what the seeds are, please post in comments.