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Amazon.com bans US seeds from promoting abroad

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Amazon.com logo can be seen in the Amazon Japan office building in Tokyo

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 banned the sale of seeds overseas in the United States after thousands of Americans received unsolicited seed packages in their mailboxes, mostly postmarked from China.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) identified more than a dozen plant species, ranging from bindweed to mustard, in bags of unwanted seeds in July. It warned Americans not to plant the seeds.

According to plant experts, seeds from other parts of the world could be non-native varieties that harm raw material crops.

"In the future, we will only allow the sale of seeds by sellers based in the United States," said Amazon in a statement emailed on Saturday.

The company changed its policy for selling seeds on Wednesday. The policy change was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The company added that sellers who do not follow its guidelines will take action, including possible removal of their accounts.

According to Amazon's policy website, the ban extends to plants and plant products.

The USDA said in July that the packages were most likely part of a "brushing" scam in which people receive unwanted items from a seller who then publishes false positive customer reviews to drive sales.

In an update on Aug. 11, Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator of the USDA Animal and Phytosanitary Inspection Service (APHIS), said the experts who analyzed some of the seeds from China found very few problems. El-Lissy added that the two countries were working together on the investigation.

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