Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have identified some of the mystery seeds that have been turning up in American mailboxes in packages with a Chinese return address, CBS News reported. Fortunately, the seeds belong to mundane, ubiquitous plants and, as such, don’t appear to be a concerted attempt to undermine American farming.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, weeks ago some Americans started reported receiving unsolicited packages that contained bags of seeds. The parcels were marked with a return address of Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, China. A label indicated that they supposedly contain jewelry or earrings.
Officials warned the recipients not to plant those seeds, as doing so could introduce an invasive species into the local biomes.
As it turns out, however, some of the mystery seeds have been identified. Fortunately, they’ve turned out to belong to ordinary and common plants that are endemic in both China and the U.S. These include mustard, cabbage and morning glory and herbs such as mint, sage, rosemary and lavender, as well as hibiscus and roses.
Regarding the reason why one or more Chinese interests are allegedly sending unsolicited seeds to unsuspecting Americans, it appears to be what’s known as a “brushing scam.” This is a fraudulent business activity that inflates a product’s visibility in an online marketplace such as Amazon by artificially showing items moving from place to place, even though the product actually being sent is usually worthless and the recipient didn’t order it.
And though it doesn’t cost the recipient any money, “brushing” does indicate that the victim’s identity might have been compromised.
“Somebody knows enough about you to create a profile online and use you to manipulate systems,” said Phylissia Clark of the Better Business Bureau.
Meanwhile, the advice not to plant the seeds still stands, as it’s still possible that one or more packs of seeds could belong to an invasive species, even if its introduction wasn’t intentional.
Further, Robin Pruisner, a state seed control official at the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in Iowa, warned that the seeds could be coated in an insecticide or fungicide, which could also be harmful to local plant life.
However, some Americans have planted the seeds anyway, according to The Guardian. For example, a Louisiana woman had actually ordered sees from an Amazon retailer — albeit not the illegal Chinese ones — so she thought nothing of planting them when they arrived. Meanwhile, an Arkansas man planted them “just to see what would happen.”