Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller warned Texans to “exercise extreme caution” if they receive unsolicited seed packets from China. The “mystery seed packets” showed up recently in mailboxes in at least 31 states in recent days.
“This could be a very serious matter,” Commissioner Miller told Breitbart Texas in a phone interview. “We don’t know what we don’t know, and frankly, I am getting tired of surprises from China.”
Miller joins agriculture officials in at least 30 states and the federal government in warning people to be very cautious about any unsolicited seeds they might receive from a foreign country. The seeds are reportedly shipped in packages marked as “jewelry.”
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said, “We don’t know what they are, and we cannot risk any harm whatsoever to agricultural production in the United States,” Breitbart News’ Ben Key reported. “We have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world and we need to keep it that way.”
Texas Ag Commissioner Miller told Breitbart people should not open the seed packets if they arrive. He urged the public to email him directly at Sid.Miller@TexasAgriculture.gov if they receive the packets.
“The seeds might not be anything, or they could be an invasive species that could threaten Texas agriculture,” Miller said. “We just don’t know at this point.”
Miller is well known across the state for distributing his own bluebonnet seeds. “These aren’t bluebonnet seeds,” the commissioner stated. “The seeds might not look threatening, but they could be invaders that could attack Texas agriculture. We must use caution.”
The commissioner said his agency is working closely with other states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to analyze the seeds and determine what they are.
Officials urge people who might receive the unsolicited seeds to not throw them away. Seeds disposed of improperly could germinate and spread.
In an article by Texas A&M University’s Agrilife Extension, Kevin Ong, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist and director of the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station, said legitimate seeds will come from sources that have been certified for import into the United States.
“Companies that sell these seeds have the necessary permits. In this situation, the source is not readily known,” Dr. Ong explained. What USDA wants to know is why are people getting these and are they noxious weeds.”
Fox News reported the seeds may be part of an internet marketing scam designed to boost reviews and web presence for the company sending out the unsolicited seeds.
The article states:
The packages, based on photographs and statements from officials, appear to have been shipped by China’s state-owned postal company and contain Chinese lettering on the exterior, advertising products ranging from jewelry to toys.
But what’s actually inside are random plant seeds and states from coast to coast have been urging residents to report the unexpected deliveries to their local agriculture departments over concerns that the seeds could be invasive or harmful species.
“We have done some researching and it does appear that these seeds are tied with an online scam called ‘brushing’,” the Whitehouse Police Department in Ohio – one of the states where the packages reportedly have been sent – posted on Facebook. “A brushing scam is an exploit by a vendor used to bolster product ratings and increase visibility online by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and then submitting positive reviews on the receiver’s behalf under the guise of a verified owner.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face