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Alabama agriculture officials warn of unsolicited seed packages

Unsolicited seed

An image provided by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries shows what the department said is an unsolicited shipment of unidentified seeds.

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is warning people not to open or plant any unsolicited seed packages they might receive in the mail from China.

Reports of mysterious packages containing unidentified seeds marked as delivered from China and sometimes mislabeled as “jewelry” have prompted similar warnings in more than two dozen states, including Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture on Tuesday afternoon said it created an online reporting system for Alabama residents who received suspicious seeds they did not order. Recipients are asked to visit and provide the requested information. The site also includes directions on how to properly store the seeds until contacted by the state.

The Agriculture Department is collecting seed packages and testing them for unknown compounds, noxious weed seed and invasive species. According to a statement Tuesday afternoon,  testing will determine if they contain anything that could negatively impact U.S. agriculture or the environment.

The Agriculture Department on Monday said packages had arrived at multiple locations around the state.

“We urge all residents to be on the lookout for similar packages,” Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate said in an emailed statement. “These seeds could be invasive or be harmful to livestock.”

Pate’s office said that those who receive the “unsolicited seed” should not open the sealed package or throw it away.