Amazon sold overseas plant for US plant seed mystery

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  After thousands of suspected packets have been blocking foreign sales of seeds in the US, several postmarks from China arrived in homes across the world this summer.

The move by Amazon appeared to be the seed of the secret that led US authorities to easily seed sales on e-commerce sites, posing potential threats to American agriculture.

According to an email seen by the Wall Street Journal, Amazon informed foreign sellers that effective September 3, it would not allow the import of plants or seed products. The email states that some foreign sellers may have removed their offers from Amazon on the same day.

Amazon also updated its public rulebook to reflect the new policy, stating that importing seeds into the US, or the sale of seeds within the US by non-US residents, is prohibited.

On Saturday, a merchant based in East Asia, which sells sugar seeds to Amazon customers in the US, said their product was removed by Amazon.

In his email to foreign seed sellers, he explained his new policy, saying, “The action was part of our ongoing efforts to protect our customers and enhance the customer experience.”

A spokesperson for the company said in a statement on Saturday: “Going forward, we are only allowing the sale of seeds by vendors that are based in the US”. Vendors who do not follow the company’s guidelines, including possible removal action Will be subject to In his account, the spokesman said.

The policy change comes in the form of several agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Homeland Securities Customs and Border Protection, the US Postal Service and the State Department of Agriculture, investigating mysterious seed shipments.

In recent months, thousands of people around the US received mail seeds they had not ordered. Most were marked from China, and shipments were often marked as jewelry, toys, or other goods. Canada and the UK are among other countries experiencing the same phenomenon.

US agricultural officials have said they are working with officials in China to decide who is sending the seed packages and to prevent future shipments. China’s foreign ministry said in July that the mailing labels on the 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 their sites contain information about USDA regulations and remove seeds that illegally contain agricultural material, including seeds Send. Since the mysterious mailing, the USDA says it has begun the work.

“E-commerce has presented a unique challenge to us,” said Osama El-Lissi, a deputy administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, in an interview on Wednesday. “These vendors must meet US regulatory requirements.”

Agricultural officials believe the seeds may introduce invasive species, weeds, pests or diseases that can harm American agriculture. On Wednesday, Mr. El-Lisi said the USDA received about 20,000 reports from seed recipients and collected some 9,000 packages. The USDA has so far assessed more than 2500 of those packages, he said.

Mr. El-Lisi said that the USDA has identified several seeds of poisonous weeds, called dodgers and water spinach. The agency has also found diseases called pyaspiviride and spindle tuber viroid in seeds in China, as well as the importance of some pests: an immature wasp and a larval seed beetle.

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

Mr. El-Lisi said the findings of the dates did not raise significant concern, or required the enactment of a federal emergency-response plan. Nevertheless, he said, the USDA is very concerned about the possibility that one or more seed packages may pose a threat to American agriculture. The agency took steps to increase pest surveillance and prepare to respond to whether it should detect something in the agricultural sector or the environment, Mr. El-Lisi said.

Officials say the exact purpose of sending the unsolicited seed packages is unclear, but a major explanation is that they are part of a “brushing scandal”. In these scams selling through online retailers such as Amazon, sellers pay “brashers” to place orders for their products, shipping packages with low prices or no content to strangers. The brashers then pose as buyers and conduct fake customer reviews to promote sales of the seller, sometimes posting reviews of other products.

Amazon on Saturday reiterated its view that seed deliveries linked to its site delayed actual orders due to Kovid-19 and brushing incidents. The company is investigating any connections that the platform package may contain or includes brushing.

Seeds are also highly attractive as a real e-commerce product, according to vendors based in China and elsewhere in Asia. The high margins make the seed business attractive to foreign sellers, as a seed packet can retail for $ 10 on Amazon from Chinese suppliers, costing $ 1.50, a seller said. Shipping charges on ultralight packages are negligible.

Removal of Amazon’s seed offers has to take place in stages, email to foreign seed sellers on 3 September. Foreign traders who ship their seeds directly to American customers will have their offers immediately removed. Those who rely on Amazon to fulfill their orders – and have inventory stored in Amazon’s warehouses – will have their offers begin September 30, according to the email.

Write John Emont at [email protected] and Jessie Newman at [email protected]

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