Arkansas Department of Agriculture collecting unsolicited seeds for USDA testing

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Arkansas Department of Agriculture says they are collecting seeds that were sent in unsolicited packages.

Officials with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture say they have received multiple reports that Arkansans have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China.

According to officials, the types of seeds in the packages are varied.

The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them, according to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture ask Arkansans who received the packages not to open, plant or throw the seeds away.

Officials say to place the unopened seed packet in a sealed bag and report the package using the Unsolicited Seed Reporting Form, or contact the Plant Industries Division at 501-225-1598.

According to a news release from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, once the contact information is received, the department will arrange to have the seeds picked up by a department employee.

The department says they “will transfer the seeds to the USDA for identification and/or destruction.”

Officials say if you have planted the seeds, leave the plants where they are and contact the department for guidance.

The USDA-APHIS does not have any evidence that this is something other than a “brushing scam”, which is sellers send unsolicited items to unsuspecting customers and post false reviews to boost sales.

Officials say based on a preliminary analysis of the seed samples the USDA received on July 17, the seed packets appear to be a mix of horticultural and weed species.

Officials say the sending of unidentified seeds in international shipments is not uncommon. U.S. Customs and Border Protection estimates there were 15,000 interceptions of seeds from all sources worldwide, and 5,000 from China and Hong Kong in 2019.

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