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USDA identifies variety of unsolicited seeds from China

USDA identifies variety of unsolicited seeds from China
Posted at 5:02 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 10:10:36-04

The U.S. Department of Agriculture continues working to identify seeds that were sent - unsolicited - from China to people across America.

CBS News confirmed that residents in all 50 states have reported receiving the suspicious packages of seeds.

According to USDA spokesperson Cecelia Sequiera, seeds identified so far appear to be a mix of ornamental, fruit and vegetable, herb and weed species.

Nationwide, the USDA has identified cabbage, broccoli, kale, celery, coriander, cilantro, sunflower, ivyleaf, morning glory, lavender, basil, rose, and garden tomato seeds. Montana Department of Agriculture officials said seeds sent to Montana include corn, sunflower, peas, and lentils. Officials said more than 140 plant species have been identified so far.

Although some seeds have been identified, state agriculture officials warn Montanans not to plant them.

“We don’t know if some of them are invasive, or could turn invasive from being in our climate, habitat,” said Layla Dunlap of the Montana Department of Agriculture. “It is highly recommended to these people who receive the seeds not to plant them.”

Receiving unwanted or contaminated seed is against the law in Montana as it violates the Montana Agricultural Seed Act. The act protects consumers from receiving poor quality, contaminated or unwanted seed. Unknown plant seed also creates the risk of introducing noxious weeds into the environment.

Ian Foley is the Ag Sciences Division Administrator at the Montana Department of Agriculture, and says that unknown seeds may be a threat to Montana’s wide-open spaces.

“Unknown seeds represent a risk to agriculture, to horticultural plants and native species because we don't know anything about those seeds,” said Foley. “They could have unknown plant pathogens. They could have unknown viruses. So, we definitely wouldn't want to plant any of those seeds in the ground and we wouldn't really want even throw those seeds away. We wouldn't want them to end up in a landfill and grow somewhere in Montana.”

The USDA is leading the response and identification process. Montanans can send packets of unsolicited seeds to the USDA office in Helena.

USDA identifies variety of unsolicited seeds from China