Ag commissioner warns about seeds sent by mail

Unsolicited product from China arrives in Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

During the last few months, there have been numerous cases of unsolicited seed deliveries from China throughout the United States. To date, two shipments of seeds have been mailed to residents in San Benito County. 

“Please do not plant the seeds,” San Benito County Agricultural Commissioner Karen Overstreet said. “Our main concern is that someone could be bringing in a pest that is detrimental to agriculture.”

Overstreet’s office has already taken possession of seeds delivered to one resident in Hollister and one resident in San Juan Bautista. She said the seed deliveries have been happening throughout the state. It’s unknown at this point what species of plant the seeds are. 

Overstreet has asked that residents call her office at (831) 637-5344 if they receive any unsolicited seeds.

While it is unclear why the seeds are being sent, the United States Department of Agriculture issued a recent statement about the mailings being part of a possible “brushing scam,” where people receive unsolicited items from someone who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.

Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.