Amazon said it banned overseas sales of seeds to the United States after thousands of Americans received unsolicited packages of seeds in their mailboxes, mostly postmarked from from China.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July identified more than a dozen plant species ranging from morning glories to mustard in unsolicited seed bags.
Residents of more than a dozen states recently reported receiving packages of seeds they had not ordered that appeared to have been mailed from China.
The USDA has warned Americans not to plant the seeds.
Seeds from other parts of the world could be non-native varieties that harm staple crops, according to plant experts.
“In the future, we will only allow the sale of seeds from sellers based in the United States,” Amazon said in a statement sent on Saturday. The company changed its seed sales policy on Wednesday. The policy change was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The company added that sellers who fail to follow its guidelines will be subject to action, including the potential deletion of their accounts.
According to Amazon’s policy web page, the ban extends to plants and plant products.
In July, the USDA said the packages were likely part of a “brush-off” scam, in which people received unsolicited items from a seller who then posted fake positive customer reviews to boost sales.
In an Aug.11 update, Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), said experts analyzing some of the seeds from China found very few problems. El-Lissy added that the two countries are jointly working on the investigation.