Amazon.com Inc. is barring foreign sales of seeds into the U.S. after thousands of suspicious packets, many postmarked from China, arrived at households around the world this summer.
The move by Amazon comes as the mystery seeds led U.S. officials to raise alarms about the ease with which seed sales can occur on e-commerce sites, creating potential threats to U.S. agriculture.
Amazon AMZN, -2.17% informed foreign sellers that, effective Sept. 3, it would no longer allow the import of plant or seed products, according to an email viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The email said some overseas sellers would have their offers removed from Amazon the same day. 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.
The policy change comes as multiple agencies, including the U.S. Agriculture Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Postal Service and state departments of agriculture, are investigating the mysterious seed shipments.
In recent months, thousands of people around the U.S. received in the mail seeds they didn’t order. Most were postmarked from China, and the shipments were often marked as jewelry, toys or other goods. Canada and the U.K. have been among other countries experiencing the same phenomenon.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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