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More than 800 reports of residents in Florida receiving packages with seeds from China

Anyone who has received these packets are being asked not to open, touch them, plant, them, or throw them away.
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, there are more than 800 reports from Florida residents about receiving mysterious packages from China containing seeds.

According to the Alachua County UF/IFAS Extension Office, there have been at least 3 instances of residents reaching out to them about getting suspicious packages like this.

“it just seems to be kind of a mish match of seeds, that you really wouldn’t plant together, which is kind of suspect in itself,” University of Florida Associate Professor at the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants Stephen Enloe said.

He says it is not just residents in Florida getting these packages in the mail, it is happening all around the country.

The United States Department of Agriculture thinks the seeds may be a scam.

“A brushing scam is where a vendor will send out packages to consumers and then they’ll post fake online reviews for those products,” FDACS DPI Public Information Director Christina Chitty said.

Anyone who has received these packets are being asked not to open, touch, plant, or throw them away.

The Florida Department of Agriculture recommends you put the packets in a re-sealable plastic bag and report to them.

Enloe says this is important so the seeds do not end up hurting our local agriculture.

“If those are coming in there’s potential that they can harbor insects, disease, pests, pathogens. Many seeds are infamous for harboring bacteria and fungi. So it’s really important we take this seriously even if it only turns out to be that type of scam going on,” he said.

After a seed package is reported, an inspector from the Florida Department of Agriculture will contact you to schedule a contact-less collection of the seeds.

You can report the seed package to the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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