Scotts Reaps Record Fine for Sowing Toxic Bird Seed

The ScottsMiracle-Gro Company was ordered in September to pay $12.5 million in civil and criminal fines and perform community service in connection with eleven criminal violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scotts illegally treated its wild bird food products with two unapproved insecticides, Storcide II and Actellic 5E, in order to guard against insect infestation during storage—in effect, poisoning the seed in order to keep it “safe” (for sale, anyway).

According to the EPA press release announcing the fines, “Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storcide II containers stating, ‘Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife.’” For two years, Scotts knowingly sold the products to consumers, including a period of six months after employees specifically warned management of the dangers. Scotts also pleaded guilty to submitting false documents to the EPA and state regulatory agencies, with intent to deceive.

Along with the $4 million criminal fine (the largest criminal penalty ever under FIFRA) and a $6 million civil penalty, Scotts was ordered to complete environmental projects—valued at $2 million—to acquire, restore and protect 300 acres of land to prevent runoff of agricultural chemicals into nearby waterways, and to contribute $500,000 to organizations that work to protect bird populations and habitats through conservation, research, and education.

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