SC Dept. of Agriculture investigating mystery seed mailings, asks residents to report them

South Carolina News

CLEMSON, S.C. (WCBD) – If you receive a package of seeds in the mail, do not plant them – report them. That’s the message from state agriculture officials after residents said they received unsolicited seeds in through the mail.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Clemson University’s Regulatory Services Division are working together to investigate the origin of the seeds, many of which involve addresses from China.

Officials said that if you do receive a package of seeds you did not order, do not open the packets nor should you handle the seeds, and certainly do not plant them.

(Photo courtesy Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries)

Instead, you should immediately place the seeds and packaging in a zip lock bag and then contact the USDA 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,” said South Carolina Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Derek Underwood, who oversees the agency’s Consumer Protection Division.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is collecting reports and coordinating a national investigation.

APHIS SITC may be reached at their website, by phone at 800-877-3835 or by email SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov. More guidance from USDA is expected soon.

“If these seeds should bear invasive species, they may be a threat to our environment and agriculture,” said Steve Cole, director of Clemson’s Regulatory Services unit. “We don’t want unknown species planted or thrown out where they may wind up sprouting in a landfill.”

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