The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched an investigation after hundreds of Canadians received unsolicited packages of seeds in the mail.
Since July, more than 750 people from all 10 provinces – but none of the three territories – have contacted the CFIA regarding the suspicious seeds, which cover a range of plant species, including tomato, strawberry, rose and citrus. They have arrived in Canadians’ mail from various countries, including China, and “appear to be low risk,” according to an Aug. 6 statement from the CFIA.
“Do not plant seeds from unknown origins,” reads a July 28 statement issued by the CFIA. “Unauthorized seeds could be the seeds of invasive plants, or carry plant pests, which can be harmful when introduced into Canada. These species can invade agricultural and natural areas, causing serious damage to our plant resources.”
Anyone who receives an unrequested seed package is urged to contact their regional CFIA office immediately. You’re asked to keep the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until a CFIA inspector contacts you with further instructions.
The CFIA continues to collect information on the packages, including their contents, sender, return address, postmarks and labels.
One theory is “an e-commerce business is trying to boost online sales by sending unrequested products to customers and posting fake positive reviews, also known as ‘brushing,’” according to the Aug. 6 CFIA statement.
For more information about Canada’s plant import requirements, click here.
The United States Department of Agriculture, plus all 50 state governments, issued similar warnings after hundreds of people south of the border also received unrequested packages.