Agencies nationwide warn of “mysterious and unsolicited” Chinese seeds
SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — The Shasta County Department of Agriculture (SCDA) today released an announcement cautioning all Shasta County residents to be wary of what they referred to as “any mysterious and unsolicited seeds from China.”
Saying his agency recently became aware of homeowners throughout the nation, including Shasta County, receiving the unsolicited packages, SCDA Agricultural Commissioner Rick Gurrola explained that the seed packages are often labeled as jewelry. Other agencies have reported some of the unsolicited packages were labeled as containing earbuds, electronics, or toys.
Some officials have said the misleading labels were possibly meant to entice the recipients to open them, and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles on Tuesday 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.”
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Without specifying if the agencies involved in investigating the source of the unwanted shipments have determined what the seed packages actually contain, Gurrola this afternoon reported, “CDFA is communicating with the United States Department of Agriculture to determine any necessary actions for shipments received in California.”
In the meantime, Gurrola has cautioned all Shasta County recipients not to open, plant, or dispose of any unsolicited seed packets received, but to contact the SCDA immediately.
“Invasive species can devastate the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects, severely damage crops, and poison livestock,” Gurrola explained. “Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.”
Thousands of US residents living in more than 30 states nationwide have reported receiving the “mysterious and unsolicited” seed packages from China, according to officials now investigating the source and reason for the unwanted deliveries.
In a statement Tuesday, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said, “The USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China”, and reported that APHIS is working closely with federal and state partners, including Customs and Border Protection, to investigate.
Also revealed Tuesday was that at that time, thousands of residents in nearly 30 states nationwide had received the unwanted packages and public notices about unsolicited shipments of seeds from China have been issued by agriculture officials in Washington State, Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Florida, and Alabama.
Regarding the shipments being received by residents nationwide, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has said, “We don’t know what they are, and we cannot risk any harm whatsoever to agricultural production in the United States. We have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world and we need to keep it that way.”
“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,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles recently said of the unsolicited deliveries being received by residents across the nation.
Seed packets or suspicious and unsolicited packages of any kind received from China should not be opened or tampered with, according to Shasta County officials; who said recipients should not handle or plant the seeds and should immediately contact the SCDA office for pick up.
Officials have also said that anyone who receives a packet of seeds “should store them safely in a place children and pets cannot access,” and then email the USDA immediately at email@example.com.
Callers will need to provide their full names and phone numbers, pictures of the packaging, “and any other relevant information.”
Suspected packets received in Shasta County can also be dropped off at the SCDA office at 3179 Bechelli Ln, Ste. 210, in Redding.
Gurrola also said that if you or someone you know did plant any of the unsolicited seeds, contact the Department of Agriculture for additional information and further instructions.
The Shasta County Department of Agriculture can be contacted at (530) 224-4949.
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Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.