After thousands of Americans received suspicious packages of seeds from China this summer, Amazon has changed its policy to ban sales of plants and seeds imported from outside of the U.S.
First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the plants and seeds’ seller policy was updated Sept. 2, according to which sales of seeds, plant products, and plants by non-U.S. residents are now prohibited. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, Postal Service, and other state and federal agencies are investigating the mysterious seed packages along with online retailers, especially since the packages arrived at a time when the coronavirus pandemic had flared up in the country.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has claimed to have collected 8,507 packages from 50 states and “completed examinations of 2,410 of those packets and identified a total of 321 different species of seed.” Warning citizens further, the USDA has recommended consumers who received unsolicited seeds “to consider changing their password on the vendor’s website” and “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.”
Consumers also are advised not to plant the mysterious seeds and to keep them until they can be collected.
On Amazon’s updated seller policy, the retail giant said sellers “must comply with all applicable federal laws when selling plant and seed products. You must also comply with state and local laws applicable to the jurisdiction into which your products are sold as well as the jurisdiction from which you ship.” The policy also notes “plants, plant products, and seeds may not be imported from outside of the United States.”
The USDA has also said, “We are not aware of any human health risks at this time. In an abundance of caution, people should wear gloves and limit touching the material. People who believe they are experiencing a health issue as a result of touching these seeds should contact their medical provider.”