Amazon.com has banned the sale of foreign seeds in the U.S. due to recent unsolicited packages arriving in the mail filled with mysterious seeds.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Amazon informed foreign sellers that, effective Sept. 3, it would no longer allow the import of plant or seed products. Amazon also updated its public rulebook to reflect the new policy, saying that importing seeds into the U.S., or the sale of seeds within the U.S. by non-U.S. residents, is prohibited.”
People across the country have received unsolicited packages of seeds. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection other Federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to fully evaluate and understand the situation. Their main concern is the potential for these seeds to introduce damaging pests or diseases that could harm U.S. agriculture.
On the APHIS website, they have released their initial findings. “As of August 31, we have collected 8,507 packages from 50 States. We’ve completed examinations of 2,410 of those packets and identified a total of 321 different species of seed. Overall, we have not found anything of major concern.” In addition to receiving reports from all 50 states, APHIS has also investigated reports from the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. APHIS also states that other countries, including Canada, Australia, and European Union member nations are also reporting that their citizens have received unsolicited seed packages.
If you have received mysterious seeds, follow these rules and consider changing your password on the vendor’s website. Consumers may also want to contact the e-commerce company if they are concerned that their account was compromised in any way or to complain about the fraudulent use of their personal information.
For the future, the USDA, CBP, and USPS are coordinating detection and prevention efforts to inhibit potential future deliveries of unsolicited seeds.
“USDA has provided guidance to USPS employees to return suspect seed packets to an international mail facility for formal action by CBP. We understand that some international mail facilities have increased staffing or are performing special operations with CBP in an effort to counter these shipments. We are working together to improve targeting and enforcement and deter illegal trade in the international mail pathway.
“USDA is also working with e-commerce companies to remove online sellers that are illegally importing or facilitating the illegal import of propagative materials, including seeds. We have also intensified our engagement with e-commerce companies to ensure they and the sellers who use their platforms are complying with USDA regulations. And, we are working with our counterparts in China to determine who is sending the packages to the United States.”