Giant residential lawn-care products company Scotts Miracle-Gro has agreed to pay $12.5
million in fines, penalties and community service projects related to its violation of federal pesticide
The settlement includes a $4 million criminal penalty for
using toxic insecticide in its wild bird food, the largest settlement to date
under the Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
In its plea, Scotts Miracle-Gro admits that is used the pesticides
Actellic 5E and Storcide II in the food, even thought its use is prohibited by
the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The reason? To protect the seed
from infestation during storage.
The problem? Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish,
and is toxic to birds and other wildlife.
The company voluntarily recalled the wild-bird seed in
question in 2008, and reported the matter to the government.
Scotts Miracle-Gro also owes $6 million to the US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cover additional civil pesticide
violations for lawn and garden products distributed and sold through 2009 with
fraudulent safety documentation and without proper EPA approval. The former
employee who created the documentation has pleaded guilty to creating the
documentation, and will be sentenced at a later date.
The investigation has led to improvements in the Scotts
Miracle-Gro regulatory compliance programs, says Chairman and CEO Jim Hagedorn.
"As we reach closure on these issues, it's important
for all of our stakeholders to know that we have learned a lot from these
events and that new people and processes have been put in place to prevent them
from happening again," says Hagedorn. "Our consumers are at the heart
of our business, and I hope they'll see our openness, cooperation, and
acceptance of responsibility are all a part of our commitment to provide
products they can trust and rely upon."
Along with the settlement, Scotts Miracle-Gro is
providing $100,000 each in funding to the Ohio Audubon's Important Bird Area
Program, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Urban Forestry Program, the
Columbus Metro-Parks Bird Habitat Enhancement Program, the Cornell University
Ornithology Laboratory, and the Nature Conservancy of Ohio.
It also is setting aside
at least $2 million in funds to acquire, restore, and conserve more than 300
acres of land throughout Ohio in association with the Black Swamp Conservancy.
For Scott Miracle-Gro CEO and Chairman Jim Hagedorn's
open letter to consumers about the settlement: