Scotts Miracle-Gro products are known for zapping weeds dead. But it turns out they could be killing decidedly more attractive creatures — birds.
Scotts pled guilty this Tuesday to charges that the company illegally put insecticides in its “Morning Song” and “Country Pride” brands of bird seed. That’s right: The company knowingly coated products intended for birds to eat with substances toxic to birds and wildlife.
According to court records, in 2008, Scotts distributed 73 million packages of bird seed coated with the insecticides Storcide II, containing the active ingredient chlorpyrifos, and and Actellic 5E, containing the active ingredient pirimiphos-methyl, intended to keep insects from destroying the seed.
The company continued to produce and market the insecticide-coated seeds despite being alerted to toxicity dangers by a Scotts staff chemist and ornithologist.
And here’s the icing on the toxin-loaded cake: Storcide II, one of the insecticides in Scotts seed, comes with a huge warning label that reads: “Toxic to birds, toxic to wildlife” and “Exposed treated seed may be hazardous to birds.” Must be that a senior exec at Scotts got shat on by a pigeon one day and took it real personal.
In addition to the bird seed, Scotts is in big trouble for selling chemical-loaded gardening products without first obtaining registration from the EPA. The federal government alleges that a Scotts manager even went so far as to fabricate documents and correspondence with the agency. It seems they find forgery easier than just not poisoning wildlife.
The judge hasn’t decided what, exactly, Scotts’ punishment will be yet, but the company has proposed paying a $4 million fine and donating $500,000 towards wildlife conservation. Maybe all the house finches, sparrows, and mourning doves Scotts has poisoned over the years will file a class-action lawsuit and push for a lot more than that.