Amidst Wildlife Federation Firestorm, Scotts Miracle Gro Fined $4.5 Million for Toxic Bird Seed, Falsifying Records

MAINE–(ENEWSPF)–January 27, 2012. 

UPDATE: Petition Asks NWF to Say No to Scotts’ Sponsorship:


On the same week Scotts Miracle Gro tried to buy an image upgrade by sponsoring the National Wildlife Federation, word has come out of a federal court that the company will pay millions of dollars in fines for selling bird seed it knew was tainted with pesticides toxic to birds.

Though the company had no comment yesterday, it pleaded guilty to charges that it sold 73 MILLION UNITS of tainted bird seed from 2005 to 2008. According to an article in today’s Columbus, Ohio, newspaper, the company continued to sell the bird seed “despite warnings in the summer and fall of 2007 from a pesticide chemist and an ornithologist, both of whom worked for the company.”

The company also pleaded guilty yesterday to falsifying documents with the Environmental Protection Agency so that it could rush new weed ‘n feed and ant killing products to market back in 2006. When Scotts’ fallacy was revealed — after the products containing cancer-causing agents had already been on the market for two years — the company blamed the actions on a single female employee, who was abruptly fired after years with the company.

Many in and around the company called her an obvious “scapegoat,” who unjustifiably took the blame for an error that could not possibly have been hers and hers alone. In a 2008 article in the same Columbus newspaper, Scotts spokesman Jim King admitted the fired employee had a supervisor who reviewed her work, but the supervisor was not terminated according to people within Scotts.

“There aren’t very many people working for Scotts in that end of the company,” said our colleague at Scotts who asked not to be named. “But I knew the woman who was let go very well and it would be completely out of character for her to knowingly falsify records.”

When SafeLawns phoned the woman this morning, she pleasantly declined comment, as she has done previously with other media inquiries.

Meanwhile, our phone and email in-box has been lit up today as the story of Scotts’ latest transgression spreads across North America.

The company, many folks believe, must have known this ruling in federal court was coming down for several months. The timing of the sponsorship with the National Wildlife Federation, announced by NWF on Jan. 18, was clearly designed to draw attention away from what is believed to be the largest fine ever levied on a pesticide company.

“It is whitewashing at the highest, most obvious level,” said Rand Jordan. “I’ve yanked my NWF habitat sign out of my backyard. I’ll never, ever support them again.”

Many called on the National Wildlife Federation to return Scotts’ money and demand that the world’s largest purveyor of lawn and garden poisons change its ways.

“I’m sickened. Just sickened about the whole thing,” said Sue Leonard of Fort Worth, Texas.