LOCAL NEWS

Utah Dept. Of Agriculture: Don’t Plant Mysterious Seeds Being Sent From China

Jul 28, 2020, 7:52 PM | Updated: 8:02 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – State officials said Utahns should not plant mysterious seeds from China that have been showing up in mailboxes across the state.

Leaders from Utah’s Department of Agriculture held a news conference on Tuesday to raise awareness about the mysterious seeds, which have arrived in mislabeled envelopes saying they contain jewelry.

As anyone with a green thumb will tell you, it takes commitment to make a good garden. 

There’s a lot of digging, planting, and nurturing. 

Ask Tina Peterson and she’ll tell you her Bountiful garden is worth every minute.

“I love to garden. Absolutely,” she said while looking at her tomatoes. “Everything tastes better when it comes out of your garden.”

She also spends a lot of time researching what to plant in that garden.

“I’m one of those ‘research-a-holics,’ if you want to call it that,” she said with a laugh.

It’s a good thing she does her research, especially after the odd packet of seeds from China, that she didn’t order, appeared in her mailbox.

“They looked just a little bit like spinach seeds, the seeds I received, but not quite like spinach seeds,” said Peterson. “So, I was a little bit suspicious. But what really set me off was the fact that they were labeled as earring studs. They were labeled as jewelry.”

She contacted the Utah Department of Agriculture, and it turned out, she wasn’t alone.

“So far we’ve heard from about 125 people. And we anticipate more,” said Robert Hougaard, director of plant industry for Utah’s Department of Agriculture.

The seeds come from several countries, but the main country is China.

The department is telling people not to plant them.

“As a department, we are concerned because foreign plant material may pose a threat to Utah’s private and public lands by introducing invasive species that can disrupt the ecosystem,” said Logan Wilde, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food commissioner.

The big question, though, is why would someone send so many seeds to people who didn’t order them?

Wilde said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, customs and FBI were investigating the packages.

“At this time, we do not have any evidence to indicate that this is something other than a brushing scam, where people receive unsolicited items from sellers who then post false customer reviews to boost their sales,” said Wilde.

If someone receives these seeds, Wilde said do not just throw them out.

He said people should send the seeds and the packaging to the Utah Department of Agriculture.

Wilde also said if you can’t send them, bake them at 200 degrees for 40 minutes. “Then they can throw them away,” he said.

If someone has already planted the seeds, Hougaard said they should be dug up, put in a plastic bag and thrown away.

For Peterson, she’s just happy she didn’t plant them because she cares about her garden.

“I know exactly what I want in my garden,” she said. “And I only plant what I want in my garden.”

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Utah Dept. Of Agriculture: Don’t Plant Mysterious Seeds Being Sent From China