Scotts Miracle-Gro Violates Pesticide Laws
The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. It’s a huge undertaking to test new products as well as reviewing all older pesticides and products that were registered prior to November 1984. The EPA performs hundreds of tests prior to registering a product for use and while the tests may be accurate at the time, they may not be evaluated for another 15 years. So what seems okay now may be found hazardous over the 15 years it is being used, which is often the case. Long term effects cannot be measured in the short time it takes to register a product.
On the other hand, testing is still necessary to determine the toxicity of a product prior to hitting the market. This short term testing is still effective and accurate for immediate results and to implement policies and guidelines to encourage compliance with environmental requirements. The Scotts Miracle-Gro company, a producer of pesticides for commercial and consumer lawn and garden uses, knowingly used an insecticide in its wild bird food products that is actually toxic to birds to protect the food from infestation during storage.
Scotts Company pleaded guilty in federal district court in Columbus, Ohio in February 2012 to illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds. Scotts was fined over $12.5 million in federal fines and civil penalties for eleven criminal violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act which governs the manufacture, distribution, and sale of pesticides. Officials also pleaded guilty to falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides and misleading and unapproved labels, and distributing unregistered pesticides.
“As the world’s largest marketer of residential use pesticides, Scotts has a special obligation to make certain that it observes the laws governing the sale and use of its products. For having failed to do so, Scotts has been sentenced to pay the largest fine in the history of FIFRA enforcement,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with EPA to assure that pesticides applied in homes and on lawns and food are sold and used in compliance with the laws intended to assure their safety.”
In the plea agreement, Scotts admitted that it applied the pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II to its bird food products even though EPA had prohibited this use. Scotts had done so to protect its bird foods from insect infestation during storage. Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storicide II containers stating, “Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife.” Scotts sold this illegally treated bird food for two years after it began marketing its bird food line and for six months after employees specifically warned Scotts management of the dangers of these pesticides. By the time it voluntarily recalled these products in March 2008, Scotts had sold more than 70 million units of bird food illegally treated with pesticide that is toxic to birds.
Scotts also pleaded guilty to submitting false documents to EPA and to state regulatory agencies in an effort to deceive them into believing that numerous pesticides were registered with EPA when in fact they were not. The company also pleaded guilty to having illegally sold the unregistered pesticides and to marketing pesticides bearing labels containing false and misleading claims not approved by EPA. The falsified documents submitted to EPA and states were attributed to a federal product manager at Scotts.
Whether it was greed or indifference, Scotts knowingly put a toxic insecticide in bird food to protect it from infestation. The loss of the product was in fact more important than the animals the food was for. Capitalism at its worst, I believe this is not an uncommon practice and that the use of chemicals (regardless as to what the package label may state) is probably very widespread and prevalent. Chemicals are in everything including our water supply and we may even know about any possible side effects until it’s too late.