The USDA has strongly urged recipients not to plant the unidentified seeds.
An Arkansas man had a rather bizarre agricultural experience after he planted the mysterious seeds he received from China. According to Vice, thousands across America have reported receiving "Packages of Unsolicited Seeds from China" in recent weeks, prompting warnings US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although the USDA strongly urged recipients not to plant the unidentified seeds, the message apparently did not get through to everyone. Among those who did in fact plant the seeds was Doyle Crenshaw from Booneville, who says he planted them before word got out about the official warning.
"We brought them down here and planted the seeds just to see what would happen, every two weeks I'd come by and put miracle grow on it and they just started growing like crazy," Crenshaw told 5NEWS. According to CNN, the mystery packages received by Crenshaw and thousands of others typically have Chinese characters on the label and contain a sealed packet of unknown seeds that some state agriculture departments believe could be invasive plant species. "Our concern is from an invasive pest aspect, these seeds could introduce an invasive weed, or an invasive insect pest or a plant disease," said Scott Bray with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
"Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops," the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a news release on July 24. "Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations." However, unaware of the potential dangers of the mysterious seeds in his mailbox, Crenshaw planted them in his garden, where they have been growing for the past two months.
They just fuckin’ ate ‘em, just opened up a package of weird-ass seeds and were like, CHOMP, yeeting that mystery shit into their mouths, num num num. They ate them. THEY ATE THEM. Never mind the people who planted them! SOME PEOPLE ATE THEM— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) September 8, 2020
You could not write this in fiction. People in horror movies are smarter and still get chopped in half by the Machete Man or the Demon Shark or whatever. “Why did the world end, Papa?” “People ate seeds that came to them, unbidden, in the mail. They just did it. No hesitation.”— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) September 8, 2020
The plant reportedly has a large white fruit and orange flowers, bearing great resemblance to a squash plant. "The package said it was from China and said 'studded earrings' on the outside, and we thought that was a little odd," said Crenshaw. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture now plans to remove the unidentified plant from Crenshaw's property for further study. An unnamed woman in New Mexico had a similar experience to share in a voicemail left with the state's department of agriculture in late July. "About a month ago, I did receive seeds from China. I guess China because it looks like Chinese writing. I thought, 'Oh cool, maybe Burgess seeds or one of the seed companies sent me some seeds.' And, umm, like a dumbass, I planted them, not knowing there was a problem," she said.
"And now, I've been battling this for a couple of weeks. Now, where I planted them, and I remember where I planted them, everything that's in the garden where I planted them are having a hard time and are starting to die... I really don't know what to do at this point, so could somebody call me back and give me a little bit of direction about this? I know I'm a dumbass," the woman added. Meanwhile, some suspect that the packages are a scam called "brushing," in which third-party sellers send recipients items they didn't order so that they can then post false customer reviews to boost sales.
I filed FOIAs about the Chinese Mystery Seeds with state departments of agriculture in all 50 states. I received thousands of emails, spreadsheets, complaint forms, presentations, voicemails. The takeaway is that MANY Americans planted the seedshttps://t.co/z9jcKWuK2g— Jason Koebler (@jason_koebler) September 8, 2020
"That is rather random. I don't think I've heard of seeds before," said Jane Rupp, president of the Better Business Bureau's Utah chapter. "The first thing to do is Google your address and see what's out there... Numerous things will come up when you Google your address. It's kind of scary sometimes." In a statement posted to its website, the USDA assured that "at this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a 'brushing scam'" and that it "is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern to US agriculture or the environment."
Amazon is barring foreign sales of seeds into the U.S.— and e-commerce company Wish will ban the sale of seeds—after thousands of suspicious packets, many postmarked from China, arrived at households around the world this summer https://t.co/4OTkJ6Wfkc— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 7, 2020