Consumer Alert: SC Agriculture officials warn about mystery seeds in mail

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– Some South Carolinians are getting mystery seeds in the mail, that they did not order.

According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, they are working with Clemson University’s Regulatory Services division to investigate after residents reported receiving packages they did not order.

State agriculture officials say they are warning anyone not to open the seeds.

State officials say if you receive any unsolicited packages containing seeds:

  • Do not open the seed 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 (SITC) program.

For more information or to report any seed mailings, contact the USDA at their 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 when it comes to unidentified seeds,” said South Carolina Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Derek Underwood, who oversees the agency’s Consumer Protection Division.

“If these seeds should bear invasive species, they may be a threat to our environment and agriculture,” said Steve Cole, director of Clemson’s Regulatory Services unit. “We don’t want unknown species planted or thrown out where they may wind up sprouting in a landfill.”

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.

According to South Carolina officials, there are reports being made to agriculture officials across the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is collecting reports and coordinating a national investigation.

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