Scotts Miracle-Gro pleads guilty to breaking the law by selling 73 million packages of birdseed coated in pesticide that is toxic to birds

Sometimes a headline is so bizarre that you have to stop and wonder if it is true. When I read that on March 13, 2012 Scotts Miracle-Gro had entered a plea of guilty with a proposal to pay $4.5 million in fines for adding an insecticide known to be toxic to birds to 73 million bags of birdseed I was floored. How could anybody be so stupid? That is like selling rat poison as cat food. But after checking out the story, it turns out that it is indeed true.

So what was Scotts thinking? Did it have it out for birds? Their excuse, feeble as it is, is that they wanted to kill the vermin that was eating the seed in their warehouse. That is not an excuse, since the obvious conclusion is that this pesticide is listed as toxic to birds. Based on the story in the Washington Post/Bloomberg, employees even warned management years into the scheme that the practice was illegal to no avail. Management simply created fake documents and fake correspodence to show that it had the proper permits.

I suspect that this manager will be going to prison even if the company itself gets off with a $4.5 million fine. Perhaps a better sentence would be that Scotts is barred from selling any pesticide or herbicide for two years. That might teach a lesson in corporate responsibility.


About James Pray

Attorney with BrownWinick Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa.
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