Banned exotic plant sales on Amazon amid global seed mystery Inc.

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After thousands of suspicious packets from China were posted in homes around the world this summer, U.S. Foreign sales of seeds are being banned in India.

Amazon’s move is a step in the right direction. Officials raised alarms about the ease of selling seeds on e-commerce sites, U.S. Posed potential risks to agriculture.

According to an email viewed by the Amazon Street Journal, effective from September, Amazon informed foreign sellers that it would no longer allow the import of plant or seed products. The email said some foreign sellers withdrew their offers from Amazon the same day.

Amazon also updated its public rulebook to reflect the new policy, saying U.S. To import seeds into, or U.S. In non-US The sale of seeds by residents is prohibited.

On Saturday, a East Asia-based trader who sells Chinese seeds to Amazon customers in the US said his product had been removed by Amazon.

In an email informing foreign seed sellers of its new policy, Amazon said the action was “part of an ongoing effort to protect our customers and enhance the customer experience.”

A spokesman for the company said in a statement on Saturday: “Going forward, we are only allowing the sale of seeds by sellers based in the US.” Of his account, the spokesman said.

The policy has changed as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Postal Service and the State Department of Agriculture are investigating the mysterious seed shipment.

In recent months, U.S. Thousands of people around received mail seeds that they did not order. Most were postmarked from China and shipments were often marked as jewelry, toys or other goods. Canada and the UK have lived in other countries experiencing a similar phenomenon.

U.S. agriculture officials say they are working with officials in China to determine who is sending the seed packages and prevent future shipments. China’s foreign ministry said in July that mailing labels on seed packages had been forged and China had asked the US to send the packages for investigation.

The USDA says it has worked with e-commerce companies for years to ensure that they include information about USDA regulations on their sites and remove sellers who illegally ship agricultural materials, including seeds. Since it is a confidential mailing, the USDA says it has stepped up the work.

“The e-commerce has given us a unique challenge,” Osama al-Lisi, deputy administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said in an interview Wednesday. “These vendors must meet U.S. regulatory requirements.”

Agriculture officials are concerned that the seeds could introduce invasive species, weeds, pests or diseases that are endemic to the U.S. Can harm agriculture. On Wednesday, Mr. Al-Lisi said the USDA has received about 20,000 reports from seed recipients and collected about 9,000 packages. He said the USDA has so far evaluated more than 2,500 of those packages.

Mr. Al-Lisi said the USDA has identified many seeds of harmful weeds, called dodgers and water-spinners. The agency also found diseases in China called pospiveroid and spindle tuber viroid in seeds, as well as some important pests: an immature wasp and a larval seed beetle.

As it collects seed packages sent to people in all 50 states, the USDA is directing them to botanists who are examining the seeds to determine their species and whether there are any deadly weeds on the federal list that are potentially harmful. The seeds can then be sent to a Maryland laboratory for DNA testing to determine if they carry pathogens that can cause plant diseases.

Mr Al-Lisi said today’s findings did not raise significant concerns, or that a federal emergency-response plan was needed. However, he said, the USDA is likely to include U.S. in one or more seed packages. There is a lot of concern about what could be a threat to agriculture. “If something is found in the agricultural sector or in the environment, the agency can take steps to increase pest surveillance and be ready to respond quickly,” Mr LL-Lisi said.

Officials say the exact purpose of sending the unsolicited seed packages is unclear but the leading explanation is that it is part of a “brushing scam”. In these scams vendors selling ret online retailers such as Amazon pay “brushers” to place orders for their products, carry low-value packages cages or have no content to strangers. Brushers then pose as buyers and post fake customer reviews to boost seller sales, sometimes posting reviews on other products.

Amazon on Saturday reiterated its view that the delivery of seeds attached to its site was not due to the Covid-19 but due to the brushing incidents in the original order. The company is investigating whether the platform may be in the packages and includes brushing.

In addition to being useful in brushing, the seeds are also very beneficial as a genuine e-commerce mercer product, according to vendors based in China and elsewhere in Asia. The high margin makes the seed business attractive to foreign sellers, such as a seed packet costing 1. 1.50 to buy from Chinese suppliers, which can retail at about 10 10 on Amazon, one seller said. Shipping fees on ultralight packages are negligible.

According to a Sept. 3 email to foreign seed sellers, Amazon is in the process of phasing out seed offers. Foreign merchants who carry their seeds directly to US customers, their offers will be removed immediately. For those who rely on Amazon to complete their orders – and inventory is stored in Amazon warehouses, their offers will start on Sept. 30, according to the email.

Write to Jon Immont at [email protected] and Jesse Newman at [email protected]

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