New Brunswick

Mysterious packages containing seeds showing up across Canada, including N.B.

Cynthia Fournier received a mysterious package in her mailbox at her home in Tracadie last week allegedly from China. 

The packages are coming by mail and contain seeds the CFIA is warning people not to plant.

Cynthia Fournier received this package at her home in Tracadie, which she did not order. (Cynthia Fournier/Radio-Canada)

Cynthia Fournier knew something wasn't quite right about a mysterious package that showed up in her mailbox at her home in Tracadie last week allegedly from China. 

On the outside of the package was Fournier's name and address, and the words "gardening supply" — the rest was in another language. 

Inside the package were four unmarked small baggies that look like seeds, or dried berries according to Fournier, who is an avid gardener. 

"They were brownish and looking like dried berries — a little bit like cranberries, but they were brown and hard," Fournier said. 

Fournier said she didn't open the baggies, because she had read about similar packages showing up in the United States.

"We don't know where those seeds come from, so I didn't want to throw them in garbage in case they grew in the dumpster, or somewhere else where they would be dumped."

Cynthia Fournier received a mysterious package at her home in Tracadie. (Submitted/Cynthia Fournier)

Instead Fournier put the package aside and is waiting to contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to report the mysterious package, and to learn about how to dispose of the seeds. 

Fournier said she placed orders online for seeds at the beginning of the year, but it was with Canadian companies, and that she already received everything she ordered.

She even confirmed with those companies to make sure they didn't send her samples.

Fournier is puzzled as to why she received the mysterious package.

"I never thought that I would receive one," she said. "It's a little bit scary as well."

On Tuesday, the CFIA warned the public of similar packages and asked anyone who receives one to inform the agency, and not to plant the seeds. 

Wendy Asbil is with the CFIA and says the agency is concerned about the packages.

"Seeds from unrecognized sources and unknown seeds can cause harm to the Canadian agriculture, forestry and natural resources," she said.

Asbil said the CFIA is gathering information about the packages, but said as of Wednesday they haven't seen any samples yet, so they can't say what the seeds are or how serious the situation is.

"It seems that they are wide ranging from some of the accounts on social media, some of the photos that are there, they're not all the same kind of seed," Asbil said, adding that the investigation is just beginning. 

Asbil said they have reports from across Canada about people receiving similar unsolicited packages.

"We're asking people to not throw them away, not to plant them — to inform the CFIA that they've received them."

Keep the package

Asbil said they are also asking people to keep the packaging so the CFIA can look into where they are coming from.

"To date we don't have a confirmed point of origin," she said.

Asbil said it's too early to know if it's a particular group of people that is being targeted with the packages, and that they don't have any information on whether the seeds could be harmful to humans.

Asbil isn't aware of anyone who has planted the seeds, but said CFIA would like to know if anyone has, so they can follow up. 

 

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.

With files from Alix Villeneuve, Radio Canada

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