Health officials in states across the U.S. said residents have reported receiving unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have been sent from China and are strongly discouraging the public from planting them.
Agriculture departments in Washington, Louisiana, Kansas, and Virginia have issued statements warning residents that the seeds could potentially be harmful to local plants and livestock.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture told its residents not to plant the seeds or open the packages, but report the "agricultural smuggling" incident to the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Mike Strain, the commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, asked locals to notify his department if they receive packages of seeds.
"Right now, we are uncertain what types of seeds are in the package. We need to identify the seeds to ensure they do not pose a risk to Louisiana's agricultural industry or the environment," Strain said in a statement.
People living in Utah, Arizona, and Ohio have also reported receiving the mysterious packages from China. One Ohio resident said some of the seed packages she received were labeled as jewelry and may have contained Chinese writing.
Police in Whitehouse, Ohio, however, do not believe the seeds are "directly dangerous." They claim the seeds are connected to an online scam.
"A brushing scam is an exploit by a vendor used to bolster product ratings and increase visibility online by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and then submitting positive reviews on the receiver's behalf under the guise of a verified owner," the department said in a statement.
Whitehouse police instructed residents to contact them so they could "properly dispose of the seeds."