State: Watch out for unsolicited seeds from China

Michigan

Courtesy images of seeds sent to people in the U.S. that the state of Michigan warns should not be planted. (July 27, 2020)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — State officials are telling Michigan residents not to plant any seeds they receive, unsolicited, from China.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development warned of the seeds Monday, saying that people across the country have been getting packages of them in the mail. The state says you shouldn’t open the packages or plant the seeds because they could be invasive.

“We don’t know what type of seeds are in the packages, but we do know they come in a variety of sizes and colors, with some reported to be very tiny. These unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock,” MDARD Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director Mike Philip said in a statement.

You also shouldn’t throw the seeds away.

The packages are generally white, have Chinese lettering and say “China Post.” Sometimes, the packaging is labeled as jewelry. In most cases, the recipient didn’t order anything. In some cases, however, the recipients did order seeds via Amazon.

Officials say the seeds might be part of a “brushing” scam, when vendors ship out cheap products and then post phony reviews online using the recipient’s name. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan has also put out a warning about “brushing” scams and unsolicited seeds coming from China. The BBB suggests updating passwords and account information on websites like Amazon if you receive a suspicious package that is free.

If you get one of the packages, keep it but don’t open it. Contact MDARD during regular business hours at 800.292.3939 or email MDA-Info@michigan.gov.

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