Agriculture officials in Illinois issued a warning to residents Tuesday to not open, plant or throw out "unsolicited shipments of seeds from foreign countries."
The alert comes amid reports from people in several states who have received packages of what appear to be Chinese seeds. A similar warning was also issued in Wisconsin.
The warnings state the seeds are unknown and could be invasive species or be harmful to people or livestock.
"We are currently working with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to address reports of unsolicited shipments of seeds from foreign countries," the Illinois Department of Agriculture said in a statement.
Anyone who receives "unordered seeds in the mail" is being asked to contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture via email (agr.seeds@Illinois.gov) and include the following information:
- First and Last Name
- Phone Number
- number of packages received.
"Do not open the package, plant the seeds, or throw them out," the department said in its warning. "Please keep all seeds unopened and with their original packaging and labels, including mailing labels, until further instruction is provided.”
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection also announced Tuesday that state residents have received seeds that appear to have originated from China. The department is advising people who receive seeds to report it to the agency using an online form.
DATCP and federal authorities will contact whoever submits a form. In the meantime, recipients should not plant the seeds and retain any packaging, including mailing labels, to assist investigators.