After the US, “mystery seeds,” spark probe in UK

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on August 05, 2020 Published on August 01, 2020

Around the world various people are receiving shipments of packages with “mystery seeds” raising security concerns amid authorities leading to international investigations into their origins, according to media reports.

About 100 cases of such shipments containing "mystery seeds" have been reported in the United Kingdom.

Potentially thousands of shipments have been reported in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Europe this week.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is investigating these shipments reported in the UK .

“Biosecurity is of vital importance and we have robust checks in place to protect our plants and wildlife, including for online plant sales. We are currently investigating packages of seeds marked as ‘ear studs’ sent to people in the UK. Anyone who has received such seeds should not plant them and instead report them to us,” said an Apha spokesperson as quoted by the report.

Earlier this week, people in the US had received similar packages with labels that make it appear as though the shipments are from China.

Several US agricultural departments including Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington state had issued warnings against these packages. Many departments believe that the seeds could be of invasive plant species.

"Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops," the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in an official release on July 24.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has asked people to not plant these seeds and to keep the package intact for investigation. People have been requested to send the seeds over the agricultural department’s office for the same.

The USDA is working with Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies to investigate the origin of the packages.

China’s Foreign Ministry had said that the address labels have likely been forged. Beijing had also offered to help the US investigate these package according to a media report.

Another possible theory could be that these packages are from “brushers.” This theory states that Chinese e-commerce vendors could be using this tactic to boost sales, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In such a scheme. Sellers use such shipments with trivial goods to log fake sales and boost reviews.

As a precautionary measure, shipments are now being investigated by various law enforcement agencies.

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Published on August 01, 2020
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