Farmfront Board Director

Elizabeth Nyman

This is a follow-up to our previous July post here.

 I want to start by saying I appreciate Jason Koebler’s work on the case of the Chinese seeds, at least for the FOIA request research alone. I encourage you to read it here! He filed over 52 freedom of information requests. The purpose was to get information from the departments of agriculture of every state along with DC and Puerto Rico.

Because FOIA is handled on a state-by-state basis, the results varied. What one state finds too sensitive, another state does not. Some requests can be answered immediately, others can essentially be ignored. The researcher in me is appreciative of this sort of hard work. I don’t know if I would have wanted to replicate it.

So he found stuff, of course! Here are some highlights that I found to be the most important and sometimes just most interesting.

10 Things That Happened when People Got Those Chinese seeds


People planted them.

Some people planted them even when expressly told not to. This would surprise no one who has ever worked next to a cash register or in customer service.


People ate them.

See above


People planted AND ate them.

…See above


People who managed to not eat, plant, or panic still fished tragedy out of the situation because they had to pay for postage to send the seeds to the government.

……See above


People called 911.

Local police reached out frequently to the USDA. In some cases…


State Agricultural departments learned what it was like to have overwhelmed phone lines.

Some are still dealing with calls and emails.


Some people got their legal and safe seed orders from China and panicked.

Please note that your regular Chinese seed supplier is not the bad guy or scammer here! They follow border agreements. These mysterious packages do not.


The American intelligence community got involved.

The USDA’s Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance group (SITC), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have all been working on this.


The official story from the USDA is still that this is a brushing scam. 

Assuming it is a brushing scam, it would be unusually large compared to any other known brushing scam. It would be an unprecedented record for the history books.


Many seeds sent to labs have been identified. Of those identified, they are harmless.

Some good news! We’ll take it.

 “I did not receive seeds. I received a suspicious package from China with a spoon and a fork in it my concerns are that it is full of Covid.”

North Carolina resident who knows they are living in 2020 when there’s no such thing as being too sure.


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