Lawn and gardening manufacturer, Scotts Miracle Gro, plead guilty to violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The charges included the sale of bird food tainted with pesticides toxic to humans and wildlife. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also issued 40 Stop ‘Sale, Use or Removal’ Orders for products that contained unregistered pesticides as well as others with misleading labels.
One of the insecticides used was deltamethrin, used to prevent insect damage of bird seed in storage. This chemical is hazardous to aquatic organisms and honeybees. Another pesticide was Chlorpyrifos-methyl, a known neurotoxin. It is classified as a bad actor in the Pesticide Action Network database. This means it is acutely toxic to wildlife and humans.
Products involved in the settlement include:
- ORTHO Bug-B-Gon MAX Lawn & Garden Insect Killer Ready-To-Spray
- ORTHO Home Defense Max
- ORTHO ProSelect Roach, Ant & Spider Killer
The company was also charged with providing falsified information to the EPA. The agency identified more than 100 products that violated federal pesticide laws.
Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay $6 million in civil penalties and $12.5 million in criminal fines. The company will also contribute to bird conservation causes, including $100,000 each to the Ohio Audubon’s Important Bird Area Program and and The Nature Conservancy of Ohio. These monies will help restore 300 acres of land to prevent surface runoff.
Unfortunately, Scotts has a history of violating federal pesticide laws, with similar charges in 2008 for distributing unregistered pesticide products. The law requires that all pesticides are registered with the agency.
Manufacturers must provide information on potential effects to human and the environment. The EPA approves labels that detail the use of pesticides. Use of a product that is not in accordance with its label is a violation of the law. Scotts Miracle-Gro misled its consumers by providing false claims on its product labels.
The case against Scotts Miracle-Gro reminds individuals to consider using pesticides carefully. The purpose of these chemicals is to destroy or repel pests. Many can harm other organisms or the environment. Other less toxic options include salt or a vinegar solution.