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New Mexico residents receive unsolicited seeds

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New Mexico residents have reported receiving unsolicited packages of foreign seeds. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture warns residents not to plant the seeds. (Source: New Mexico Department of Agriculture)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Something seedy is going on.

Dozens of New Mexico residents have reported receiving unsolicited packages of foreign seeds since Friday. Similar packages have shown up in mailboxes across the country.

Katie Laney, assistant division director in the Agricultural Production Services Division of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, said most of the seed packages are being sent from China, but two came from Uzbekistan. Photographs sent to NMDA appear to show several seed varieties in the packages.

NMDA warns residents not to plant the seeds.

“The seeds aren’t labeled, so we don’t know if it’s a tomato seed or a noxious weed,” Laney said. “They could potentially have plant diseases that we don’t want to introduce to New Mexico.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a statement about the mysterious seeds Tuesday, saying the federal government will work with state agencies to see if the seeds contain anything harmful.

“At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales,” the statement says.

Residents who receive an unsolicited seed shipment should save all packaging and labels and contact the NMDA at nmagsec@nmda.nmsu.edu or 575-646-3007.

Laboratory officials will test the seeds and share them with the USDA for testing in a federal laboratory.

“We may choose to germinate those seeds we can’t identify and see if we can identify the plant itself,” Laney said. “Some are coming in a plastic packaging like you’d see for Amazon, but some arrive in a manila envelope.”

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