Mystery seeds from China are landing in Alabamians’ mailboxes

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has received reports of multiple Alabama residents receiving packages from China containing “unsolicited” seeds through the United States Postal Service.

Officials say that the packing is often incorrectly labeled as jewelry.

Residents from other states, including Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington have also reported residents receiving the suspicious seed packages. They say the practice is known as agricultural smuggling.

“We urge all residents to be on the lookout for similar packages,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate. “These seeds could be invasive or be harmful to livestock.”

ADAI is asking Alabama residents who have received the packages to follow these instructions:

  1. DO NOT plant the seeds and if they are in a sealed package, do not open the sealed package. Also, DO NOT dispose of the seeds.
  2. Report suspicious seed deliveries to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and maintain the seeds and packaging until USDA provides further instructions. This may be used for evidence. 

The USDA is expected to release official guidance, including instructions for reporting unsolicited seeds. The instructions will be shared by ADAI as soon as possible.

About 100 people across Alabama have gotten unsolicited seed packages from China in their mailboxes. It’s a mystery thought for the state agriculture department.

“I wouldn’t even open the package. You don’t know what they could be,” Pate said.

Pate says these seeds could also be bad for the environment. He says right now there’s still a lot of unknowns.

“Don’t flush down the toilet because it could end up in a stream. Don’t throw them in the trash can because they can end up in a landfill, germinating,” he said.

If anyone in Alabama has received packages of foreign or unfamiliar seeds should contact the state agriculture department immediately at 1-800-877-3835 or email to For more details click here.


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