So, you go out to your mailbox one morning and there you find one of those packages you’ve been reading about in the news: a collection of various kinds of seeds, mailed from… China?
But you’re not alarmed. Thousands of people across the U.S. are getting them. And the Department of Agriculture has just announced that tests show they’re ordinary stuff: cabbage, mint, sage, mustard and the like. Morning glories, too.
Nothing to worry about, apparently. No conspiracy to blanket America with fast-growing, kudzu-like vines, bringing commerce, industry and baseball to a grinding halt. No plot to entangle us in giant flowering webs wrapped around our legs and leaving us incapable of defending ourselves, not even with our AK-47s.
It’s probably just part of a “brushing scam,” experts say — online retailers paying people, the “brushers,” to place orders for their products and mail them to strangers who didn’t place the orders. The resulting fake reviews and the big volume of shipments boost the seller’s sales or search-power on an e-commerce website.
OK, maybe so. But that sounds a little too complicated to me, too much trouble for not much gain. I think it’s something else: maybe something completely innocent, maybe something really nefarious.
Let’s consider, first, the innocent alternative. Maybe it’s a 4-H club in a farming town near Wuhan doing its part to atone for COVID-19. The kids feel really terrible about all the havoc their parents have caused, and want to do something nice — do something to show America’s Donald Trump that not all Chinese are bad people.
They scour their seed boxes and come up with all sorts of odds and ends; they contact their cousins in other provinces and convince them to do the same. Soon hundreds of thousands of seeds are on their way to America and the kids are finalizing plans to go on TikTok to reveal their campaign for forgiveness and say “We’re sorry!”
It’s a nice narrative, and I wish it was true, but I don’t think it is. If nothing else, where would the kids be getting all those Western seeds? Why wouldn’t they be sending us bok choy, tatsoi, mo gwa and such? Seems to me that would be far more likely, if this is really what’s going on.
It’s more probable, I believe, that something sinister is afoot. I think we’ve stumbled upon a serious case of agro-terrorism.
Remember those fleets of drones that were reported flying over parts of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska last winter? They were flying at night, night after night, and would disappear before dawn to avoid identification.
There was no doubt that the drones were there — law enforcement tried to track them down — but the patterned flights ended before anyone could figure out what was going on. The military said it had no idea who was responsible. Even the FAA was stumped, despite an intensive investigation.
My theory? There’s a link between the drones and the seeds.
Consider this possibility: the Chinese are indeed planning to tie us up, to paralyze us, to render us virtually immobile by using something akin to Asian knotweed, already a proven invasive species. Deploying choke-all plants such as knotweed, bamboo or ailanthus — the “tree of heaven” we already have all over around here — to subdue an enemy seems primitive but it would be a nearly non-violent way to take over a foe, acre by acre.
They’re trying to figure out how best to distribute the green weaponry. Scattering millions of seeds by air, using squadrons of stealth drones, would be one possibility. Large areas of the country could be blanketed quickly and efficiently.
But getting Americans to do the sowing themselves would be even more effective, and cheaper too. Mail them free “flower” seeds, perhaps some bio-engineered superweed disguised to look like apple pips. Create a phony organization — a Make America Pretty Again Foundation, for example — to be the source. Send the packets out from the post office in Plant City, Florida.
Florawarfare is not yet a clear and present danger. But its season may be about to start.
If the scientists in the USDA’s foreign weed lab at Fort Detrick aren’t working on this already, they’d better begin. They can call me for help. I’ve got beans I haven’t spilled.