Endangered the world's largest seed vault 3:06
(CNN) - If you've received a mystery seed packet in the mail lately, don't plant them.
Several states in the U.S. are issuing warnings after residents across the country reported receiving unsolicited packages that appear to have originated in China. The packages generally have Chinese characters on the label and contain a sealed package of unknown seeds that some state agriculture departments say could be invasive plant species.
"Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects, and severely damage crops," the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a press release on July 24.
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"Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations."
It is unclear who exactly is shipping these packages, why they are distributed, and whether the seeds are truly harmful. The Department requested that anyone who has received this type of package by mail contact the Plant Industry Services Office.
The Departments of Agriculture in Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington state are among the state agencies that have issued similar warnings. The departments also warned people not to open the sealed seed packets and to keep the labeling intact for officials to investigate.
Utah resident Lori Culley is one of the people who received a package of seeds, according to CNN affiliate KSTU. She told the news station that although "most of the writing on the outside was in Chinese," the label on the package indicated that it contained jewelry.
Jane Rupp, president of the Utah chapter of the Better Business Bureau, told KSTU that she suspected the packages could be a scam called “brushing,” in which outside vendors send recipients items they did not order so they can write a review. positive on your behalf while posing as a verified buyer.
"That is quite random. I don't think I've ever heard of seeds before, ”Rupp told KSTU. "The first thing you should do is Google your address and see what's out there ... A lot of things will appear when you Google your address. Sometimes it is a little scary. ”
Plants and seeds shipped to the U.S. from other countries are highly regulated by the Plant Protection and Quarantine Program, administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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Seeds imported into the US must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate that guarantees that the product is free of pests and diseases.