Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is sounding the alarm about reports of foreign seeds being shipped unsolicited to Kentuckians across the commonwealth. Kentucky is the fourth state known to receive suspicious packages of seeds that appear to have originated from China.
“It is incredibly important that if you receive a package of foreign or unfamiliar seeds, you report it to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture 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 bioterrorism.”
Quarles said unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten the environment.
Those who have received such a package are advised to not plant the seeds and immediately contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
State Senator Matt Castlen said agriculture is the backbone of the local community, and seeing instances of these seeds being shipped to people across the state are alarming.
He currently does not know of any cases of the seeds showing up in Daviess County.
“Seeing this seed come to the commonwealth, and not just here but other states across the country, it’s something we should take note of because the United States is the most powerful nation in the world because of our abundant amount of food and access to safe food,” he said.
Individuals who have received suspicious packages with seeds should put them in an airtight bag and ship them to USDA-APHIS PPQ, P.O. Box 475, Hebron, Kentucky 41048. Individuals are also encouraged to contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture at 502-573-0282 or email email@example.com.
“I want to reiterate: Do not plant the seeds,” Quarles said. “We don’t know what they are, and we cannot risk any harm whatsoever to agricultural production in the United States. We have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world and we need to keep it that way.”
Multiple agencies, including a police department in Ohio, said the packages could be involved in a scam called brushing, in which third-party sellers send people items they didn’t order so that they can write a positive review on their behalf while posing as a verified buyer.