The USDA recently finished a months-long investigation into thousands of reports from citizens who received unsolicited seed packages in the mail last year. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found no evidence that someone was intentionally trying to harm U.S. agriculture with the shipments. APHIS did confirm that some of the seeds sent to the U.S. were unsolicited, but others were seeds that the recipients ordered, although the buyers didn’t know they were coming from a foreign country.
Regardless, most shipments were illegal because they came into the country without a permit or phytosanitary certificate. “Plants and seeds for planting online from other countries can pose a significant risk to U.S. agriculture and natural resources because they can carry harmful insects and pathogens,” the APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine Program says in a statement. “We’ve been working closely with e-commerce companies and other federal partners to stop the flow of illegal plant and seed shipments into the U.S.” The agency set up a new site to help in its efforts to facilitate the safe trade of plants and seeds through the e-commerce pathway. More information is available at www.aphis.usda.gov.