Unknown seeds being sent by mail

Mary Ann Kearns [email protected]

What ever you do, don’t plant the seeds.

Agriculture officials across the state are warning Kentuckians against planing any unsoliticiated seeds they may receive through the mail.

According to information from the University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture , several Kentucky residents have received the unsolicited seed packets which appear to have originated in China. The types of seeds are unknown and may pose a threat to Kentucky agriculture and the environment through the introduction of invasive plants or diseases, officials said.

Tad Campbell, Mason cooperative extension agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources, said he is unaware of any seeds which may have been received locally but said there is potential that some were since the mailings seem to be spread across the state.

He advised against discarding the seeds and instead said the package should be mailed in an airtight container to the USDA Division of Plant Protection in Hebron. A form which should accompany the seeds is available by contacting Campbell’s office at 606-564-6808, he said.

“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,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan 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. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment. If you have received such a package, do not plant the seeds and immediately contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.”

Residents of other states have received the seed packets as well, according to news reports.

“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.”

Campbell said it is important that information on the issue be circulated to the public.

“The more information out there, the better off everybody will be,” he said.

Individuals who have received the suspicious packages should put them in an airtight bag and ship them and the packaging in which they arrived to the USDA APHIS division of Plant Protection Quarantine at USDA-APHIS PPQ, P.O. Box 475, Hebron, Ky. 41048.