(Bloomberg) -- U.S. federal agencies are investigating suspicious and unsolicited packages of seeds that have been arriving at addresses across America and appear to come from China.
Anyone who receives the shipments should hold onto the seeds and packaging and immediately contact officials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement.
The USDA doesn’t have any evidence to indicate this is something other than a “brushing scam,” where a seller sends unsolicited packages so they can post false customer reviews online and boost sales, it said.
Authorities in Canada also said there have been reports of its citizens receiving unsolicited seed packages, echoing the USDA’s warning not to plant them.
“Unauthorized seeds could be the seeds of invasive plants, or carry plant pests, which can be harmful when introduced into Canada,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement. “These species can invade agricultural and natural areas, causing serious damage to our plant resources.”
China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said that the problem parcels are forged and not from the Asian nation. China Post has strictly followed regulations that ban the sending and receiving of seeds, and has talked to its U.S. counterparts about returning parcels to the Asian nation so it can investigate further, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
The USDA is collecting the seed packages and will test their contents for anything that could be of concern to U.S. agriculture or the environment, it said.
(Updates from 4th paragraph to include Canadian statement)
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