State agriculture officials have warned Tennesseans not to plant or even handle unordered seeds that come through the mail.
The seeds appear to have been shipped from China, and in some cases, the envelopes are labeled jewelry or beads.
“While we have no reason at this time to suspect that these seeds were sent with ill intention, we want to take every precaution to be sure an invasive or otherwise threatening plant species doesn’t take hold here,” said ag commissioner Charlie Hatcher, DVM.
Imported plant materials go through rigorous testing and inspection to ensure they are not carrying any plant disease or pests and do not pose any threat to health and environment. So far, no evidence has been found to indicate these unsolicited seeds have gone through appropriate inspection, or if they are even the type of seed they are labeled to be.
If citizens receive seeds they did not order, they should not handle or plant the seeds. Instead, seal the bag of seeds into two plastic bags and send all packaging to TDA. If the seeds have already been planted, TDA recommends digging up the seeds or sprouted plants. They should be double-bagged and placed in the trash. It is not advisable to compost the seeds or sprouted plants.
Our partners at USDA believe the seeds may be a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales, Hatcher said in a press statement.
Persons can send unsolicited seed packages to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, attention Plant Certification. The original envelope as well as any paperwork or enclosures and the bag of seeds should be included along with the recipient’s name, contact information and full address. Mail to P.O. Box 40627, Nashville, TN 37204, or send via UPS or FedEx to 436 Hogan Road, Nashville, TN 37220. Info: 615-837-5137 or email.
Information provided by Tennessee Department of Agriculture.