Frankfort, Kentucky — Agriculture officials in multiple states issued warnings Monday about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them. In Kentucky, the state agriculture department was notified that several residents received unsolicited seed packets sent by mail that appeared to have originated in China, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said.
The types of seeds are unknown and could be harmful, Quarles said, stressing that they should not be planted.
“We don’t know what they are, and we cannot risk any harm whatsoever to agricultural production in the United States,” he said. “We have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world and we need to keep it that way.”
Anyone in Kentucky receiving packages of foreign or unfamiliar seeds should contact the state agriculture department immediately, Quarles said.
“At this point in time, we don’t have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism,” he said. “Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment.”
Residents of at least eight states have now received suspicious packages of seeds that appear to have originated from China, with officials in each urging people not to plant them, according to the Reuters news agency.