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Mysterious Seed Packets Mailed to Hawai`i From China

July 29, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated July 28, 4:56 PM
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Seeds from China are being mailed to people in the United States. The Dept. of Ag warns against planting them and asks anyone who receives them to report it to the state. PC: Washington State Dept. of Agriculture

Mysterious agricultural packets are being mailed to US residents all over the country from overseas.

The US Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) is investigating unsolicited seed packets that have been mailed to numerous individuals across the country, primarily from China.

Since Saturday, the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has received five reports of seed packets being received by Hawai`i residents and are in contact with those individuals to acquire the shipments.

Residents who receive unsolicited seed packets should keep the contents of the package, mailing envelope in its entirety, and any other contents that arrive with the shipment and contact the USDA-APHIS or their nearest HDOA Plant Quarantine office for further instructions. Do not open, throw away, or plant any of the seeds to help ensure that new invasive species are not introduced into the state.

USDA-APHIS Offices:

  • Kona – (808) 326-1252
  • Hilo – (808) 933-9040
  • Kaua‘i – (808) 632-2505
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HDOA Plant Quarantine Office:

  • Kona – (808) 326-1077
  • Hilo – (808) 961-9393
  • Kaua‘i – (808) 241-7135
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Or call the State’s toll-free pest hotline at 643-PEST (7378).

USDA-APHIS, which is responsible for inspections of agricultural material imported from foreign countries, is working nationally with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and state agriculture officials to investigate the situation.

At this time, federal authorities do not have any evidence of nefarious activity connected to the seed packets but are testing the contents to determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to US agriculture or the environment.

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HDOA is currently working with the USDA to ensure that all known shipments of unsolicited seeds in Hawai`i are recovered and handled appropriately.

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