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Seeds of doubt: Unsolicited packets pit S.C. ag officials against mysterious mailers

LDAF says these seeds were delivered unsolicited to someone in St. Rose, La.
LDAF says these seeds were delivered unsolicited to someone in St. Rose, La.(Source: LDAF)
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 1:38 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - South Carolina agriculture officials warn residents to be wary of unsolicited packages of seeds mailed to them.

It’s something that’s been happening all across the country, and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and Clemson University’s Regulatory Services division are working together to try to figure out what’s up. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service is coordinating a national investigation.

South Carolina officials say that if you receive an unsolicited package of seeds:

  • Do not open the packets or handle the seeds.
  • Do not plant unidentified seeds. They may be invasive species that could displace or destroy native plants and insects.
  • Retain the seeds and packaging and put them in a zip-top bag.
  • Contact the USDA APHIS Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance program at its website, by phone at 800-877-3835 or by email at sitc.mail@aphis.usda.gov.

“Whatever the reason for these mailings, it’s important to use caution,” South Carolina Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Derek Underwood said in a statement. 

Answers to further questions may obtained from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Seed Lab at 803-737-9717 or seedlab@scda.sc.gov, Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry (invasives@clemson.edu;) or a local Clemson Extension Office.

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