Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has been ordered to a pay a record fine for criminal and civil crimes it committed for years by marketing toxic bird seed.
According to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, the company will pay $12.5 million in penalties because it included two pesticides in its bird seed that environmental regulators considered toxins to wild animals. Prior to their recall from the market in 2008, the company sold at least 70 million units of bird seed that contained the toxic pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II.
Scotts included these two pesticides in its bird seed mixtures to prevent bugs from eating the seeds, especially while they were in storage. The company ignored warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency that barred their use in products that would be or could be eaten by small wild animals, including birds.
While it is unknown if any birds were sickened after eating these widely available bird seeds, the inclusion of these toxic pesticides are clear and repeated violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the EPA charged.
According to another report, the company will pay $4 million in criminal fines. It will pay another $6 million in civil penalties and has agreed to spend more than $2 million on community service activities like environmental projects. The company got in trouble for re-marketing the bird seeds that were recalled from the market in 2008 under different brand names but that still contained product from those which were included in the recall.
Scotts pleaded guilty to these crimes in February of this year and until now, the EPA worked to determine the fines the company should pay. The total of $12.5 million reached is a record amount for any company to pay for violation of these laws. The company pleaded guilty on charges for “illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds, falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels, and distributing unregistered pesticides.” according to a report.
The EPA charges held Scotts more accountable than others in the industry because it is the leading bird seed manufacturer in the country and believes it should carry a “special obligation” with federal regulations than others.
Scotts illegally sold more than 100 products with the toxins and generated more than $25 million in profits from those sales.
In addition to these crimes, a former Scotts manager is set to be sentenced on federal criminal charges that she intentionally falsified regulatory documents that were submitted to the EPA and state environmental officials.