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Is Your Birdseed Killing Your Backyard Birds?

This month, Scotts Miracle-Gro was fined millions for using pesticides in birdseed - the company was sentenced for 11 criminal violations and for knowingly selling toxic birdseed, falsifying documents and killing wild birds.

Is Your Birdseed Killing Your Backyard Birds?


Scotts Miracle-Gro is facing more than $12 million in fines and penalties for knowingly selling birdseed laced with pesticides. The company pleaded guilty to charges back in February for the toxic birdseed and was sentenced this month for 11 violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act ( FIFRA). 

As a result, Scotts will pay a $4 million fine and be required to pay an additional $500,000 for community service. In a separate civil agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scotts will also pay more than $6 million in penalties and $2 million for environmental projects.

“The misuse or mislabeling of pesticide products can cause serious illness in humans and be toxic to wildlife,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a press release.

The two insecticides are Storcide II (chlorpyrifos-methyl) and Actellic 5E (pirimiphos-methyl). Neither of these two insecticides is approved by the EPA for use in bird foods. Storcide II is even specifically labeled with a warning of its high toxicity to birds and marine life.

The two chemicals were used in the company’s Country Pride, Morning Song, Scotts Songbird Selections and Scotts Wild Bird Food brands of birdseed. Scotts voluntarily recalled these products in 2008.

“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. For having failed to do so, Scotts has been sentenced to pay the largest fine in the history of FIFRA enforcement," said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.

“The Department of Justice will continue to work with EPA to assure that pesticides applied in homes and on lawns and food are sold and used in compliance with the laws intended to assure their safety.”

Scotts admitted that it applied the pesticides to its bird food products even though the EPA had prohibited its use. Scotts also pleaded guilty, according to a press release, to falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels and distributing unregistered pesticides.

In a press release, Scotts' CEO Jim Hagedorn denied that his company “had any knowledge of such illegal activity while it was taking place.”

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