Americans Nationwide Are Receiving Mysterious Bags Of Seeds Sent From China

All 50 states have issued warnings about mysterious packages containing seeds from China.

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A US Department of Agriculture official said in a recorded statement released on July 29 that 14 species of the seeds have been identified as herbs and other plants including hibiscus and mint.

"We have identified 14 different species of seeds, including mustard, cabbage, morning glory, and some of the herbs like mint, sage, rosemary, lavender, then other seeds like hibiscus and roses," said Osama El-Lissy, a deputy administrator for the USDAs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Since late July, people across the US and in countries including Canada and the United Kingdom have reported receiving packets of seeds they did not order, and are marked as coming from China.

Some of the packages labels indicate that the packages contain jewelry, though US state officials say they are mislabeled since they actually contain small packets of seeds.

All 50 US states have now issued warnings against planting the seeds, according to a July 29 report from CNN, and have been instructed in many instances to instead contact state or local authorities.

"People who receive seeds should not plant or handle the seeds," Richard Ball, the New York State Commissioner of Agriculture, said in a July 27 statement.

A spokesperson for Chinas foreign ministry said earlier this week that the address labels were forged, CNN reported, and that Chinas postal service has asked the US Postal Service to send packages to China for investigation.

The USDAs El-Lissy said in a separate recorded statement on July 29 that through Wednesday evening, the department had "no evidence of the seed packets being anything but a so-called brushing scam."

These scams arent unique to the mysterious seeds. In a brushing scam, vendors selling through online retailers pay people — the so-called "brushers" — to place orders for their products and ship them to strangers who did not place the order. Then, fake reviews or even the sheer volume of shipments can help boost the sellers sales or search-power on an e-commerce website.

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