Amazon has banned the sale of foreign seeds
By Diego Flammini
An online marketplace is doing its part to help keep the United States safe from potential invasive weeds.
Amazon has changed its sales policy around seeds and other plant materials.
“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.
As of Sept. 3, “plants, plant products and seeds may not be imported from outside of the United States,” the company’s updated rules state.
The updated policy will come into effect on Sept. 30.
Individual sellers are responsible for complying with federal, state and local regulations with respect to plant and seed products. Those that don’t could have their accounts shut down.
Amazon’s actions come after a summer that saw residents in all 50 states receive unsolicited seed shipments. These deliveries also prompted all 50 state ag departments to issue warnings to people not to open, plant or discard the seed packages.
Planting the seeds could introduce an invasive weed into the U.S. and could affect the ag sector.
“Seeds for planting pose a significant risk for U.S. agriculture and natural resources because they can carry seed-born viruses or other diseases,” the USDA said in a Q-and-A document. “Imported vegetable or agricultural seed must meet labeling and phytosanitary requirements and be inspected by APHIS (Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service) and (Customs and Border Protection) at the port of entry.”
The USDA continues to test the contents of any seed packages.
As of Aug. 31, APHIS has collected more than 8,500 packages and tested almost 2,500 individual bags of seeds.
APHIS has identified more than 300 seed species including morning glory, sage, mustard, mint and lavender.
Farms.com has reached out to USDA and industry groups for comment.