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Receive mystery seeds in the mail? Don't open or plant them, warn ag officials

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Posted at 12:39 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 00:35:39-04

The San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures is warning people against opening unsolicited seed packages shipped from China.

People in numerous states have reported receiving the mystery seeds, and local agriculture officials say homeowners in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County have received the shipments as well.

The SLO County Department of Agriculture says the seed packages are often labeled as jewelry, toys, or other items.

Ag officials say anyone who receives the shipments should not open, plant, or dispose of the seeds. Instead, contact the Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures.

"Invasive and exotic species can be detrimental to the environment by impacting native ecosystems, damaging crops and potentially poisoning livestock. Excluding and preventing their introduction is effective in reducing the impact to San Luis Obispo County and to protect our robust agricultural economy," stated Martin Settevendemie, San Luis Obispo County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer.

To contact SLO County's Agriculture Department, call (805) 781-5910.

To contact Santa Barbara County's Agriculture Department, call (805) 681-5600.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the seed shipments.

The department says it has no evidence to indicate that they are anything other than a "brushing scam," in which people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.

The USDA is reportedly collecting seed packages from recipients and testing them.