Purdue: Unsolicited Seeds Could Wreak Havoc on Agriculture

Growing concerns around unsolicited seeds prompt at least 28 states to issue warnings not to plant the seeds. Indiana joined the list of states this week, warning of the potential damage to agriculture. Don Robison, seed administrator for the Office of Indiana State Chemist, says, “The last thing we want is to spread a weed, invasive species or disease, and that’s a real risk if people plant these or throw them in the garbage.” Robison says there is potential for serious harm to everything from backyard gardens to commodity and specialty crops. Utah officials confirmed at least one noxious weed in seeds sent to a resident in the state. Weed seeds, invasive species and disease pathogens can spread rapidly, costing millions of dollars annually for just a single plant or disease, and cause billions of dollars of impact overall each year. The seeds may be part of a “brushing” campaign in which online retailers send out unsolicited packages and use the fake sales to improve the seller’s ratings in the marketplace.