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Checking the facts. Is China Sending Poisoned Seed Packages to Multiple Countries? – Observer

They arrive by mail, sealed in clear bags in yellow or beige envelopes. Australia, the UK, Brazil and all 50 US states have reportedly delivered packages of poisoned seeds shipped from China. This is the version that has been circulating on Facebook since August, with many people believing in a conspiracy theory. “Communist China is sending packets of strange seeds to Brazil and the world,” one user of this social network wrote when the story began to gain momentum. Previously, another user previously said that “China wants to poison the world” and “poisoned seeds” from this country are being sent to various places around the world. However, it is not true that the seeds are poisoned and the orders probably have not even left China.

The real part is that packages have been distributed all over the world, the sender of which is unknown. Inside are unidentified seeds. Some samples have been collected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and no poisons have been detected. According to the USDA, seeds are first and foremost “plants that can be found in any common garden.” 14 species of seeds and herbs have been identified, such as mustard, cabbage, mint, sage, lavender, rosemary, hibiscus and roses. Even so, the entity asks those given orders not to open or plant them, as the species may be invasive or spread disease.

It was also the indication of the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture in early September. To those who received one of these unsolicited orders, the Minister asked them to “hand them over to the regional directorates of agriculture and fisheries or to send them to the delegations of the directorate general for food and veterinary”.

“Do not open, sow and do not put in the trash” these seeds “, because they could be contaminated and could bring serious situations” like that of the pandemic Covid-19, at a time when the American authorities had even identified the content, excluding the possibility of treating poisoned seeds The envelopes feature Chinese characters and are often stamped with the words “China Post (China post office)”, but their provenance remains to be proven. Chinese authorities are also working on the investigation and have asked to examine certain envelopes. After checking with the local post office, they found that the labels “turned out to be false, with incorrect settings and entries,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, at a press conference.

In the United States, where there have been more cases of unsolicited orders, the investigation is being coordinated by the USDA, in partnership with Customs and the Department of Homeland Security. The authorities believe that what is happening is what they call a “brushing scam”, a fraud aimed at promoting a product. A seller mails what they want to disclose, without the person receiving the order having made a purchase or even knowing what it is. Then the same seller posts reviews of those people, the alleged customers, in order to boost and increase sales.

It is true that some receive unidentified seeds without placing an order. The United States of America Department of Agriculture has previously ruled out the possibility of sample poisoning and identified some species as trivial, like rosemary or roses. Packages do not have a return address but bear Chinese stamps. The Chinese authorities have already guaranteed that they are fake. Everything indicates that the mysterious deliveries are part of a promotional fraud, which aims to promote a product and give it positive reviews, all bogus.

Thus, according to the Observer classification system, this content is:

False

In Facebook’s classification system, this content is:

FALSE: Major content claims are factually inaccurate. Usually, this option matches “false” or “mostly false” classifications on fact checker websites.

NOTE: This content was selected by the Observer as part of a fact-checking partnership with Facebook.

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