Residents in all 50 states across the U.S. are receiving packages from China containing unlabeled seed packets, often disguised as jewelry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials are warning individuals of these mysterious and unsolicited packages. According to the USDA website, the “USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation.”
The USDA advises, “anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.”
Additionally, Agrilife Today released a statement from Kevin Ong, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist and director of the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station, saying “the concern arises because these packages have seeds in them instead of what is listed, and there is no information on what type they might be.”
The USDA is informing those who receive the packages to not discard them. Ong stated that these seeds packages “can potentially germinate and escape into nature.”
Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller is also urging Texans to take extreme precaution when receiving unsolicited seed packets from China. “I am urging folks to take this matter seriously,” Miller said. “An invasive plant species might not sound threatening, but these small invaders could destroy Texas agriculture. Texas Department of Agriculture has been working closely with USDA to analyze these unknown seeds so we can protect Texas residents.”
If you have received one of these seed packages, immediately contact the proper authorities. For Texas residents, contact: Carol Motloch, USDA-APHIS’ Texas PPQ state operations coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All other states may email SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.
Your email should include your contact email and phone number with a description of the contents and a photograph of them, if possible.
The Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education was created in late 1995 at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT) to serve Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas as part of a program initiative of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The initiative established a network of centers, funded on a competitive basis, to conduct programs of research, prevention, intervention, education and outreach designed to reduce occupational injuries and diseases among agricultural workers and their families.
As part of the world-renowned University of Texas System, UTHSCT is a graduate school providing programs for those seeking careers in the medical field.
UTHSCT offers Master of Science in Biotechnology, Master of Public Health and Master of Health Administration degrees, as well as residency programs for medical school graduates in family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, occupational medicine, rural family medicine, general psychiatry and rural psychiatry. Psychology internships and fellowships are also available.
Graduate students, medical residents and other medical professionals-in-training develop marketable skills and qualifications to excel in the medical field as they learn alongside innovative scientists, physicians and other healthcare experts at UTHSCT and at UT Health East Texas, a 10-hospital health system.
Led by UTHSCT President Kirk A. Calhoun, MD, FACP, the university will soon become home to the first medical school in Tyler. For more information, visit www.uthct.edu.