Amazon Bans Foreign Seeds Sales In US Amid Mystery Packages – Report

Amazon said it has banned foreign sales of seeds in the US after thousands of Americans received unsolicited packages of seeds in their mailboxes, mostly postmarked from China, Reuters reported.

Amazon (AMZN) changed its policy on seed sales on Wednesday. The policy change was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. According to Amazon’s policy web page, the ban also applies to plants and plant products.

“Moving forward, we are only permitting the sale of seeds by sellers who are based in the US,” Amazon said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters on Saturday.

The e-commerce giant added that sellers who do not follow its guidelines will be subject to action, including potential removal of their accounts.

The action comes after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July identified more than a dozen plant species ranging from morning glories to mustard in the bags of unsolicited seeds. It warned Americans not to plant the seeds, according to the report.

According to plant experts, seeds from other parts of the world could be non-native varieties that harm commodity crops. The packages are believed to be part of a global “brushing” scam to gain positive reviews for online selling sites.

Shares in Amazon, which dropped 2.2% on Friday, have been on a steady winning streak jumping a stellar 78% so far this year, with the $3,725.59 average analyst price target implying 13% upside potential is lying ahead in the coming 12 months.

In a bullish note, Loop Capital Markets analyst Anthony Chukumba last month hiked AMZN’s price target to $3,775 from $2,900 and maintained a Buy rating on the stock.

Chukumba is confident that the “pull-forward” of consumer e-commerce adoption in groceries, health and personal care induced by the coronavirus pandemic will boost growth for the company “well beyond” COVID-19. The analyst also increased his target operating margin estimate for US first-party retail sales to 8% from 7%

Overall, AMZN scores 37 Buy ratings from analysts versus 1 Hold rating adding up to Strong Buy consensus. (See Amazon stock analysis on TipRanks).

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