COLUMBIA, Mo. – Officials urge residents to report unsolicited packages of seeds delivered from foreign countries. Unknown seeds could introduce noxious weeds, pests, diseases and viruses.

“This may be part of a business technique called ‘brushing,’” said Lee Miller, University of Missouri Extension director of Integrated Pest Management and MU associate professor of plant sciences. “Package labels read jewelry or other items to avoid inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services.”

MU Extension horticulturist Robert Balek said that since last Wednesday reports have come in about seeds being sent to Missouri, Washington state, Kansas, Utah and Virginia residents.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture encourages residents who received unsolicited seeds not to open the seed package and not plant the seeds if the package has been opened. Additionally, do not dispose of the seeds, packages, or envelopes until the MDA has provided further guidance.

The USDA is leading the investigation from the federal level with assistance from the MDA. MU Extension reported the suspicious mailings to MDA in mid-July following a weekly horticulture teleconference with Extension specialists and gardeners throughout the state. 

If you received a package of mystery seeds, Balek said, place them in a sealed bag and contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at 573-751-2462 or

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The Missouri Department of Agriculture has received reports of Missourians receiving unsolicited seeds from foreign countries such as China. Missouri Department of Agriculture.