HCN News & Notes

Massachusetts Residents Asked to Report Receipt of Unsolicited Packages of Seeds

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has been notified that several Massachusetts residents have received unsolicited packages that appear to have originated in a foreign country and contain seeds. While the exact types of seeds in the packages are unknown, the seeds are thought to be invasive plant species that — while not believed to be harmful to humans or pets — could pose a significant risk to agriculture or the environment.

MDAR encourages Massachusetts residents that receive or have received an unsolicited package of seeds to not plant the seeds and immediately complete a form on MDAR’s website to provide information to state plant regulatory officials.

Residents that receive a package should hold on to the seeds and all packaging, including the mailing label. A representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture or MDAR will be in contact with instructions regarding the collection or disposal of the seeds.

Invasive plant species can threaten the integrity of local ecosystems and displace native plants, including rare and endangered species. The most effective approach to mitigating the risk of invasive plant infestation is to take steps to ensure they are not planted.

Unsolicited packages of seeds have been received by people in several other states across the U.S. over the last several days. On July 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a press release announcing it is working with state plant regulatory officials to investigate the situation. The USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their state plant regulatory official or plant health director.