The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued a warning yesterday for Floridians about unsolicited packages of seeds received through the mail. The seed packets, which may arrive unexpectedly in packages bearing Chinese characters, may bear the name China Post, and may be labeled as jewelry, have been reported in multiple ares including Virginia, Kansas, Washington, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Escambia County.
As of July 27, FDACS has received at least 160 reports from Florida residents reporting having received suspicious seed packages. The content of the seed packages is unknown at this time.
"An Escambia County resident has already received seed packets and notified our office before this warning was issued," stated Nick Simmons, Escambia County Extension Director. "We do not know what kind of plants these are so it is very important to not plant these seeds or throw them out. If someone were to thrown them out, they could germinate and bloom in our landfill or birds could get them and spread them. We are asking the public to store them away in a separate plastic bag so pets or children do not get a hold of them either. As FDACS stated, plant seeds from unknown sources may introduce dangerous pathogens, diseases, or invasive species into Florida, putting agriculture and our state’s plant, animal and human health at risk. Anyone receiving these suspicious seed packets should not open them, should not plant them, should limit contact with them, and should report them immediately."
FDACS is working closely to receive guidance from the USDA and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the lead regulatory body on this issue, in consultation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
What To Do: Anyone receiving unsolicited seed packages from other countries should follow these directions:
Do not open the seed packet and avoid opening outer packaging or mailing materials, if possible
Do not plant the seeds or discard them in trash that will be landfilled (in any mner other than what is recommended by DPI)
Limit contact with the seed package until further guidance on handling, disposal, or collection is available from the USDA
Report the seed package to the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov
When reporting the seed package to FDACS, please be prepared to provide one’s name, physical address, phone number and email address for contact purposes.
If you have an immediate concern, please call 850-475-5230 x104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.