On July 28th, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig confirmed that Iowa residents have received unsolicited seed package shipments from China and potentially other nations. In some instances, the seeds are disguised as jewelry packages. At least 28 U.S. states have reported similar warnings.
On Tuesday, a spokesman with China's Foreign Affairs Ministry contacted the U.S. Postal Service requesting the seeds be returned to the China Post, the state-owned postal service, for further investigation. China is a member of the Universal Postal Union which prohibits the mailing of plant seeds to foreign countries.
Chinese officials also noted that the return addresses on most packages were invalid after investigation. The origin of the packages is unknown at this time.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture is urging anyone who receives unlabeled seed packages from an unknown origin to report the incident immediately at 515-281-5321. Recipients should never open seed packages, plant seeds, or attempt to destroy them. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will collect, analyze, and properly destroy the seeds.
According to the USDA, this event is a case of agricultural smuggling that will remain under investigation.