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Watch for unsolicited packages
By Whitney Wyatt/
The Red River Sun—
CHILDRESS – Texas residents need to be on the lookout for mysterious seeds from China delivered by mail in tiny bags marked as jewelry.
Since the seeds are unsolicited, Childress County AgriLife Extension Agent for Ag/Natural Resources Ryan Martin said do not open them.
“Our concern is what exactly the seeds are,” Martin said. “Be very cautious with it, and don’t throw it away.”
Instead, Martin said to put them in a Ziplock bag and bring them to Suite 9 on the first floor of the Childress County Courthouse.
Childress County Sheriff Mike Pigg added that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is advising not to open the seed packets nor plant the seeds. In addition to contacting the Childress County AgriLife Extension, he recommends notifying the USDA.
Residents receiving a packet can email the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine State Operations Coordinator Carol Motloch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Martin said emails should include the person’s email, phone number and a description of the package information. A photo of the label and material would help.
Wellington Postmaster Jeff Adams said they receive packages all the time from China to deliver. Some are labeled with descriptions like household or jewelry, but they have not had any customers who have reported getting anything suspicious from China.
According to a press release from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the concern arises because these packages have seeds in them instead of what is listed, and there is no information on what type they might be. Not knowing what the seeds are could potentially open the agriculture industry up to noxious weeds. If that proves to be the case, if they take hold, they could impact agriculture negatively.
In addition to Texas, these mystery seeds have also been received in Washington, Virginia, Utah, Kansas, Louisiana and Arizona, the release stated. Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller urges people to take this matter seriously.
“An invasive plant species might not sound threatening, but these small invaders could destroy Texas agriculture,” Miller said in a press release. “TDA has been working closely with USDA to analyze these unknown seeds so we can protect Texas residents.”
An invasive species is an organism that is not native to a particular region, the release stated. The introduction of this “alien species” can cause economic or environmental harm. In agriculture, an invasive species can destroy native crops, introduce disease to native plants and may be dangerous for livestock, Miller said in the release.