Have you received any mysterious packages in the mail lately? In early March I wanted a CD (yes, I still buy CDs) that was out of print in the United States. Amazon led me to a seller in Japan, and with only a few copies left, I snatched it up. Of course, in the time between purchase and delivery, everything went crazy and my wife forced me to quarantine the package in our garage before I opened up, fearing that some worker across the world had coughed on his hand before placing my CD in the bubble envelope.

That sort of quarantining may have been a bit overboard, but it really just took a small bit of common sense. To use a tired joke, common sense has not been very common lately.

The Toms River Police Department confirmed that the New Jersey Department of Agriculture had received reports of suspicious, unsolicited packages containing seeds were being sent from China to New Jersey residents.

I mean, this sounds like something from a movie. A foreign government trying to impact another country's ecosystem? At least in the movies, they wouldn't be so blatant as to put Chinese writing on the envelope.

The craziest (and saddest) thing is that I'm certain that some people have already planted these things. You should know that even bringing a species from another part of America could be hazardous to our local environment. Invasive plants can hurt local plants, and who know what other kinds of organisms could be on those seeds?

I'm not trying to be alarmist, I'm not trying to say that China is trying to invade New Jersey...I'm just saying you shouldn't be dumb enough to plant random seeds you got in the mail that you didn't even ask for.

Now, should you happen to get these in the mail yourself, here's what the TRPD says to do:

  • DO NOT plant the seeds and if they are in sealed packaging do not open the sealed package.
  • Take a photo of the package and seeds and send the photos to USDA Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance at Mail@aphis.usda.gov.
  • Maintain the seeds and packaging and send to the USDA Office.
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