This is an example of different seeds that have been mailed unsolicited to people across the country. A South Hadley resident receive a packet in the mail this week and reported it to the Department of Health. (USDA photo)
When New Jersey attorney Robert Popescu received a package labeled “Bonsai” on the front steps of his Marlboro home on Tuesday, he snapped a photo and emailed it to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
“I didn’t open the package. I just put it in the fridge,” Popescu said. “They were presumably those seeds.”
Popescu, who has a practice in Old Bridge, said he’d read recent news stories online about the mystery seeds and wants other residents to know they might receive them, too. “Based on the news articles, I knew what to do,” he said.
The lawyer was one of at least three New Jersey residents who emailed NJ Advance Media to say they had received the seeds after the story appeared online.
The state’s department of agriculture is advising residents to alert them if they receive similar packages.
“Do not plant (the seeds) and if they are in sealed packaging don’t open the sealed package,” agriculture officials said in a social media post.
In a warning, the USDA has said the seeds, which are sometimes sent in packaging stating the contents are jewerly, could be harmful to the environment.
“Unsolicited seeds could be invasive (and) introduce diseases to local plants or be harmful to livestock,” the USDA said in a statement.
Officials say the mailings are “known as agricultural smuggling” and should be reported to the USDA and kept until the federal agency offers further instructions on what to do with the packages and seeds.
“They may be needed as evidence,” the USDA’s statement said. New Jersey officials have alerted farming and agriculture boards and agencies throughout the state about the seeds.
Seeds received in the mail from China could be harmful to the environment and livestock, officials said.USDA
Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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News – N.J. residents find those mystery seeds from China in their mail. Here’s what to do if you get a package.