Weeks ago, a strange series of packages began appearing in American mailboxes from coast to coast.
These were small envelopes, postmarked as having arrived from mainland China, and they were not expected packages. They arrived labeled mostly as “jewelry”, enticing the users to open them up and peek inside, perhaps under the impression that a windfall of some sort had arrived.
But when opened, it was revealed that these packages actually contained unlabeled agricultural seeds, prompting the Department of Agriculture to issue a stern warning against planting them or throwing them in the trash. There was a fear that they could be part of an ecological terror plot meant to introduce invasive, non-native species to the US.
This bizarre series of events has now prompted Amazon to take drastic action as well.
Amazon is reportedly barring the sale of foreign plants to the US, following reports that people across the country this summer have been receiving suspicious, unsolicited packages of seeds, many of which are postmarked from China.
Amazon’s new policy went into effect on Thursday, according to an email viewed by The Wall Street Journal, which first wrote about the ban Saturday. Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for confirmation, but the Journal also noted that the company has updated its seller rules to reflect the change. The email Amazon reportedly sent to foreign seed sellers said the change is part of the company’s “ongoing efforts to protect our customers and enhance the customer experience,” the Journal said.
The latest operating theory on the original China mystery seeds is that the packages were part of a strange “brushing scam” that somehow allows overseas sellers to boost their online seller ratings by reviewing these shipments of “jewelry” as 5-star transactions.
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