Comer calling on companies to prevent illegal importation of plant products

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) sent letters to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Alibaba Group, Daniel Yong Zhang and President and Chief Executive Officer of Ebay Inc., Jamie Iannone, expressing concerns regarding their platforms allowing the sale and importation of foreign plant and animal products in the United States. After thousands of Americans received unsolicited seed packages, Ranking Member Comer requests information on steps the companies are taking to prevent the unlawful distribution of foreign seed products that could be designed to harm U.S. agriculture production, the environment, and our economy.

“When mystery seeds from China began landing in Americans’ mailboxes, we knew we had a problem. State and Federal agricultural officials promptly warned the public that these products when planted, pose enormous risks to U.S. agriculture. An invasive plant species could wreak havoc and introduce unknown diseases to our local crops, livestock or ecosystem,” said Ranking Member Comer. “In order to protect Americans, it is crucial for companies and their platforms to abide by U.S. Customs laws, which rightfully prohibit sellers abroad from importing seeds. In the wake of these China seeds, Amazon took a commonsense approach to protecting American agriculture by no longer allowing their distribution on their site. Now, it is time for Ebay and the Alibaba Group to commit to the same.”

In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Amazon Services recently announced that it will prohibit both the importation of plant or seed products into the United States and the listing or sale of plant-based products by non-U.S. residents. Ranking Member Comer calls on eBay and Alibaba to ensure they are taking similar steps in order to reduce the risk of Americans receiving unsolicited seed packages and further protect U.S. agriculture.

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