As if 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, the United States government is now warning people not to plant packets of mysterious seeds that are being shipped over from China.
People in at least 27 states have received these unsolicited packages recently, often mislabeled as jewelry on the outside. But they actually contain small packets of seeds.
“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, said Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles.
However, receiving random unsolicited items through the mail could easily be indicative of a “brushing scam,” which simply means the seller of an item is shipping people products to boost sale numbers and write fake reviews.
But the fact that these are plantable seeds imported under false pretenses from another country adds an additional layer to what may be an otherwise relatively harmless scam.
The importing of any sort of agriculture is monitored and restricted due to how fragile ecosystems can be, and how drastically the introduction of something that doesn’t actually fit into the ecosystems throughout the U.S. could change things.
“The reason that people are concerned is — especially if the seed is the seed of a similar crop that is grown for income and food, or food for animals — that there may be plant pathogens or insects that are harbored in the seed,” Carolee Bull, the head of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology at Penn State, told The New York Times.
Although it’s likely this is just a brushing scam, some are already attempting to use this to continue pushing an anti-China agenda.
Regardless, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking anyone who receives these mysterious seeds in the mail to hold onto them and contact your state department of agriculture.
The last thing 2020 needs is another catastrophe, especially one as lame as killer plants.