OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Mysterious packages from China are being shipped to the U.S.
Officials said they don’t know why, but they don’t suspect a major conspiracy is afoot.
Kathleen Cassedy of Ocean Springs just wanted some morel mushrooms. Instead, she has become a part of a growing mystery that is sweeping across the United States: unsolicited seeds from China.
She had placed an order on Facebook but didn’t get what she ordered.
“So when that package came, I just thought that’s the seedlings for the morel mushrooms, but then I got to looking at the package and it was from like Kazakhstan, and I’m going, ‘Hmmm, that doesn’t sound right,’ and then when I saw the description, it said it was earrings,” Cassedy said.
The next day, Cassedy saw a story about the seed shipments and she followed the advice that was given. Don’t plant or throw away the seeds. Get them to the state agriculture department.
“I encourage people to don’t throw them away,” said Gary Bachman, a research professor at the MSU Extension Service. “It is probably easiest to send them to the Mississippi State University Extension offices and let us forward them. We won’t test them, It’s got to go to the USDA.”
Tests by the USDA have so far shown the seeds are for flowering plants, vegetables and herbs. They are not considered to be a serious threat, but officials are asking for caution. The prevailing theory is the seeds are part of a “brushing” scheme to create false customers for fake product reviews of online products.
“So I really don’t know what to make of the ultimate purpose of that, but on the other hand, if you get an unsolicited package of seeds, please don’t open them, because we don’t know,” Bachman said.
So far the state agriculture department reports that 82 shipments of the seeds have been sent to people in 45 Mississippi counties.
If you receive a shipment of seeds you didn’t order, you can bring them to the MSU Extension on Popps Ferry Road in Biloxi.