Wild bird

Scotts Miracle Gro, the world’s largest producer of residential pesticides, must pay the largest fine of its kind in U.S. history totaling $12.5 million for violation of Federal pesticide laws including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The company was also charged with adding illegal toxins to wild bird food.

The company pleaded guilty to charges that included the use of misleading and unapproved labels; the distribution of unregistered pesticides; and falsifying pesticide registration. But the charges most inciting outrage among environmentalists and animal rights advocates were those that involved the use of toxic insecticides in bird food products including Storcide II and Actellic 5E.

Representatives for Scotts Miracle-Gro admitted that the pesticides were added to the bird food products over a two-year period despite known warnings against inhaling, swallowing or allowing skin to come into contact with the products. The pesticides were sprayed onto the food to protect it from insects while being stored, Scotts argued, despite violating EPA laws that forbid the practice. Additionally, labels on the products were found to be misleading to consumers and never approved by regulators.

Among the fines issued by a Federal court, the Ohio-based company will have to pay more than $6 million in civil penalties to the Environmental Protection Agency and distribute another $2.5 million to environmental projects and organizations that promote the protection of wild bird habitats.

“As the world’s largest marketer of residential use pesticides, Scotts has a special obligation to make certain that it observes the laws governing the sale and use of its products,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, an environmental attorney with the Justice Department, in a statement.

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