Market Overview

Amazon Bans US Import Of Plant Products To Counter Mysterious Chinese Seed Shipments

Amazon Bans US Import Of Plant Products To Counter Mysterious Chinese Seed Shipments, Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) and other retailers, such as Wish, are imposing new restrictions on importing plant products into the United States to counter mystery seed packages, many of which originate from China, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

What Happened: The Jeff Bezos-led company published a policy on its Seller Central portal that prohibits listings of plants, plant products and seeds that are imported from outside the U.S. or sold by a non-U.S. resident.

Thousands of people in the U.S. as well as in the United Kingdom and Canada have received seeds by post, which they claim they never ordered. The bulk of such shipments originated in China, the Journal reported.

The seed shipments are reportedly said to be related to a scam known as “brushing,” which experts believe is related to generating fake sales for unrelated products.

Such sales or fake orders are encouraged by unscrupulous sellers to inflate sales, which pushes the sellers' ranking higher on e-commerce websites such as Amazon, the Journal noted.

Why It Matters: The change in Amazon’s policies comes after multiple federal agencies and state departments of agriculture investigated mysterious seed shipments, the Journal reported separately. 

Agriculture officials are concerned about invasive species, diseases, weeds and pests such seeds could introduce in the U.S.

The USDA has received 20,000 reports from seed recipients and collected 9,000 packages and assessed 2,500, according to the Journal.

The agriculture department reportedly hasn't found anything of significant concern to date.

In March, House lawmakers demanded that Amazon and other e-commerce companies take stronger action against stolen and fake products to counter threats posed to consumers by “organized retail crime.”

Price Action: Amazon shares closed nearly 2.2% lower at $3,294.62 on Friday.


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