Quarles sounds alarm on unsolicited foreign seeds

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is sounding the alarm about reports of foreign seeds being shipped unsolicited to Kentuckians.

Kentucky is the fourth state known to receive suspicious packages of seeds that appear to have originated from China.

“It is incredibly important that if you receive a package of foreign or unfamiliar seeds, you report it to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture immediately,” Quarles said. “At this point in time, we don’t have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam, or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive and introduce unknown diseases to local plants, harm livestock or threaten our environment. If you have received such a package, do not plant the seeds and immediately contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.”

Over the weekend, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture was notified of several Kentucky residents who had received unsolicited seed packets that appear to have originated by China.

The types of seeds are unknown and may be harmful. The packages were sent by mail.

“I want to reiterate: do not plant the seeds,” Quarles said. “We don’t know what they are, and we cannot risk any harm whatsoever to agricultural production in the U.S. We have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world and we need to keep it that way.”

Individuals who have received suspicious packages with seeds should put them in an airtight bag and ship them to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s division of Plant Protection Quarantine at USDA-APHIS PPQ, P.O. Box 475, Hebron, KY, 41048.

Individuals are also encouraged to contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture at (502) 573-0282 or email ag.web@ky.gov.