County of Marin - News Releases - Mysterious Seeds

For Immediate Release
July 30, 2020

Agricultural Commissioner Warns of Mysterious Seed Deliveries from China

San Rafael, CA – The mysterious shipments of unsolicited seed packets from China to locations all over the United States has started to hit Marin County. The Marin County Department of Agriculture received word from state and federal agencies that the seeds could be harmful to other plants and livestock.

A closeup view of a mailed package from China and seeds wrapped in a small plastic bag.Marin residents are instructed not to open mailed unsolicited seed packets and to contact the Agricultural Commissioner’s office for instructions.
Marin’s Agricultural Commissioner, Stacy K. Carlsen, reported that a Marin resident voluntarily surrendered one of the seed packets to staff in his Novato office. Two other local residents have reported receiving similar shipments.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has warned counties about the trend and contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine a coordinated response, according to news reports. The agencies are communicating with the U.S. Postal Service about the shipments as well.

Residents are instructed not to open unsolicited seed packets and to contact the local agricultural commissioner’s office. Seed packets should not be opened, shipped, or disposed of to prevent potential dispersal of invasive species and/or quarantine pests. Unopened seed packets should be held by the resident or a county official until more instructions are provided.

If any suspect seeds have been planted in pots, Marin residents should notify the Department of Agriculture staff and hold the pots with soil and seed until further instructions are provided. If suspect seeds have been planted in the ground, the resident should carefully mark off the area, avoid irrigating or cultivating it, and contact the Agriculture staff.

Contact the Marin County Department of Agriculture at 415-473-6700.


Stacy Carlsen
Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures

1682 Novato Blvd.
Suite 150-A
Novato, CA 94947
(415) 473-6700
Email: Stacy Carlsen
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