Has a package of ‘mystery’ seeds landed in your mailbox? Mass. officials say report it, don’t plant it

A warning now in Massachusetts about a phenomenon that’s happening in other states: mystery packages from China full of seeds. The state’s Department of Agriculture said the types of seeds in the packages are unknown, and you should let the department know if you received one.

Christine Lieber did not order jewelry from China, but that's what a package addressed to her said.

"I still opened it and when it opened it there wasn't anything inside with an invoice or a description inside of what it was," she said.

Those seeds came with packaging that said “untracked.” The feds are investigating.

“It is not a traceable package,” Lieber said. “You get very nervous and anxious about, well what is the motive for these seeds?”

“We have no idea even really what it is because we haven’t really analyzed any of the seed coming in yet,” said Jacob Flieg of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

If you receive a mysterious package of seeds, investigators say do not open the package, do not plant the seeds if the packaging has been opened, and report your delivery so investigators can gather evidence.

"Whether it's actual seed that's legal for distribution in the United States or in our state, whether it has noxious or prohibited weeds in it, those kinds of seeds just are typically hard to control under our normal agriculture practices, so they can overtake our native species and kind of crowd them out," Flieg said.

Lieber has instructions to send her seeds to USDA inspectors who will assist in getting more answers about what the motives are in China.

“It’s the right thing to do, and the easy thing to do is just throw them away and not do anything but I care about myself, my family, my friends and the people around me who I’ve never met,” Leiber said. “And if there’s something we can do to prevent something from happening…that’s going to be a huge, huge problem, way more than a shortage of toilet paper if we’re not concerned about those around us.”

The state said someone from the Department of Agriculture will contact you with details about what to do with the seeds after you alert them through this form.

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