Islanders are being urged not to plant the seeds and to instead double-bag them and put them in the bin.
Dozens of Jersey residents have said on social media that they have received the seeds, with similar deliveries being reported across the world. The popular theory is that the random packages are part of a ‘brushing scam’, used by online sellers to boost statistics for their businesses.
Recipients have been quick to voice their confusion online over the unsolicited deliveries, with one Islander saying: ‘I’ve had loads sent in lockdown and they’re all listed as ear studs – I didn’t have a clue what they were and binned them.’
Another joked: ‘I planted one and I’ve now got a 5G mast in my garden.’
It is yet unclear how long Jersey has been a target for such deliveries, although one Islander said they had come across the seeds earlier this year. ‘I had some but I just put them back in the bag and binned them,’ they said. ‘It was before everyone was talking about them so I wasn’t sure what to do with them.’
The bizarre deliveries even prompted online shopping giant Amazon to reportedly ban the sale of foreign plants and seeds into the United States, with authorities raising concerns about possible damage to agriculture.
In an online post the States police said: ‘We’re aware of foreign seeds being randomly delivered to Islanders from either China or Singapore. The issue has been brought to the attention of the Environment Department and the current advice is don’t plant them, but do dispose of the seeds by double-bagging them and putting them in the bin.’
Jersey’s head of biosecurity, Scott Meadows, said that he had ‘not seen anything like this before’.
‘This has been on our radar for about two months now,’ he said. ‘We are just as confused as the rest of the world – the general consensus from what we can gather is that this is part of a brushing scam which is designed to raise a website’s review status.
‘Following recent communication with UK plant health officials we don’t believe this is a biosecurity threat,’ he added. ‘But that does not mean that it couldn’t be, so if you receive these packages and you haven’t ordered them, then do not open them. Please dispose of them through a responsible method such as double-bagging and then binning them. Do not use them for compost – the public has a responsibility to be biosecurity aware.’
For more information contact S.Meadows@gov.je.