In the wake of reports from across the U.S. of people receiving mysterious, unsolicited packages of seeds, many of which originated in China, Amazon has banned the sale of foreign seeds to U.S. customers.
“Moving forward, we are only permitting the sale of seeds by sellers who are based in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement. Overseas vendors and non-U.S.-resident sellers who attempt to import plant or seed products into the U.S. could have their accounts shut down, the company said.
After thousands of residents in all 50 states reported receiving the suspicious seed packages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture advised against planting them since the seeds could be an invasive species, or worse. However, many of the seeds were identified as common plants and herbs like as mustard, cabbage, morning glory, mint, sage, rosemary and lavender.
The Agriculture Department said the seeds could be part of a scam where the seller boost sales through false positive reviews.
“U.S.D.A. 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,” the agency said in a statement. “We have also intensified our engagement with e-commerce companies to ensure they and the sellers who use their platforms are complying with U.S.D.A. regulations.”
The USDA has asked people who receive these packages to file reports and hand the seeds over to the agency’s investigators in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service