Join 3,521 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I saw a dead bird flying through a broken sky
September 8, 2012 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Lawn and garden products company Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay $12.5 million in fines for poisoning bird feed and violating pesticide laws, officials said Friday.

In 2008, the company conducted a voluntary recall of its wild bird food products when it discovered that they had been treated with a pest control product not authorized for use on wild bird food. The company also voluntarily disclosed the matter to the government.

Later that same year, in an unrelated matter, the company recalled several additional lawn and garden products after it was discovered by the EPA that a former associate had created fraudulent documentation that allowed them – which were safe to use as directed and did not harm consumers or the environment – to be sold without proper approval from the agency. The former associate has pleaded guilty to federal crimes related to these activities and awaits sentencing. She has repeatedly acknowledged to law enforcement authorities that she acted alone.
posted by futz (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here's how the EPA press release explains what happened: "In the plea agreement, Scotts admitted that it applied the pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II to its bird food products even though EPA had prohibited this use. Scotts had done so to protect its bird foods from insect infestation during storage. Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storcide II containers stating, 'Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife.' Scotts sold this illegally treated bird food for two years after it began marketing its bird food line and for six months after employees specifically warned Scotts management of the dangers of these pesticides. By the time it voluntarily recalled these products in March 2008, Scotts had sold more than 70 million units of bird food illegally treated with pesticide that is toxic to birds."

I meant to put this in the body of the post...
posted by futz at 10:14 AM on September 8, 2012


“It’s important for all of our stakeholders to know that we have learned a lot from these events and that new people and processes have been put in place to prevent them from happening again,” Jim Hagedorn, Scotts chairman and chief executive, said in a separate statement.

Translation - Jim Hagedorn sacked a bunch of middle managers for doing exactly what he told them to do, but still has a nice comfy job and his warm fleecy golden parachute intact for next time.

Seriously? They learned a lot from this?

HOW MUCH FUCKING LEARNING DOES IT TAKE to figure out not to use poison on food? Hmm? Should we warn Jim proactively that most mammals fail to thrive after decapitation? That fire burns?

Pathetic.
posted by pla at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


♪ We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin'
With each drop of strychnine -
We feed to a pigeon -
It just takes a smidgen!
To poison a pigeon in the park!
posted by XMLicious at 10:27 AM on September 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


WHAT do you have to do these days to be made into a total pariah? This is so blatantly evil that this guy should be literally kicked off the island. I am really, really, really tired of hearing about anything-for-a-buck-psychopaths-that-essentially-get-away-with-it every other day. It's really beneath us as a civilization.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:29 AM on September 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


I wish they'd turn their attention to rat poison. Rentokil just doesn't cut it - I have rats so big I could saddle the fuckers...
posted by gallus at 10:48 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The company also voluntarily disclosed the matter to the government.

This doesn't sound to me like a company rotten to the core. It sounds like they suddenly realized that one of their seed sources was doing something wrong and did the right thing.
posted by DU at 10:52 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


You missed this, DU:

Scotts sold the illegally treated bird food for six months after employees warned management of the dangers of the pesticides, the department said.
posted by Talez at 10:56 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scotts sold the illegally treated bird food for six months after employees warned management of the dangers of the pesticides, the department said.

Sounds like those would be the middle-managers that got sacked after it took 6 months for the news to make it from management to Upper Management. Just because some manager knew about it doesn't mean he told -his- managers.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 11:21 AM on September 8, 2012


gallus: "I wish they'd turn their attention to rat poison. Rentokil just doesn't cut it - I have rats so big I could saddle the fuckers..."

When life gives you rats make transportation.
posted by Splunge at 11:23 AM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


She has repeatedly acknowledged to law enforcement authorities that she acted alone.

Always a Lynndie England, never a Dick Cheney.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:30 AM on September 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a press release that this was the largest criminal penalty and the largest civil settlement ever under the pesticide law.

In 2011, Miracle-Gro's profits were 167 million on revenue of 2.84 billion dollars. The penalty is 7.5% of their annual profits, or 0.4% of their revenue.

I just don't see how corporations can survive in the face of an anti-business EPA over-regulating and levying draconian fines like this.
posted by Killick at 11:34 AM on September 8, 2012 [20 favorites]


HOW MUCH FUCKING LEARNING DOES IT TAKE to figure out not to use poison on food?

How do you propose to explain this to a company whose major products are pesticides?
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It sounds like they suddenly realized that one of their seed sources was doing something wrong

RTFA, except that you wouldn't even have to R the FA to see the relevant bits:

Scotts admitted that it applied the pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II to its bird food products even though EPA had prohibited this use. Scotts had done so to protect its bird foods from insect infestation during storage. Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label

Besides which, the idea that it was a seed supplier at fault doesn't even make a tiny bit of sense given the lede: if the pesticide had been applied by a seed source, why would the EPA sue Scotts instead of the seed source? And why would Scotts plead guilty to it?
posted by ook at 12:54 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


To poison a pigeon in the park! ♫

Off topic, I know. But I did not know that Tom Lehrer invented Skittlebrau in the 50's!
posted by chemoboy at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind this is a settlement, not a court ruling, so we'll never get to the actual bottom of this. Any statements are essentially the prerogative of the parties themselves unless part of the settlement agreement, so they can spin it any way they like.
posted by dhartung at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2012


Besides which, the idea that it was a seed supplier at fault doesn't even make a tiny bit of sense given the lede: if the pesticide had been applied by a seed source, why would the EPA sue Scotts instead of the seed source? And why would Scotts plead guilty to it?

Companies can be held liable for the environmental practices of their suppliers. This was drilled into my head repeatedly during supplier code of conduct training at my company.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:25 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now we can't have a thread like this that doesn't somehow involve Monsanto, now can we?
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 3:42 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Companies can be held liable for the environmental practices of their suppliers.

Ok, fair enough; but if there had been any chance here of passing the PR hit onto a supplier, Scott would surely have done so.

It seems quite clear that in this case Scott was 100% culpable.
posted by ook at 4:33 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if this is related to all those mass bird deaths over recent years?
posted by SassHat at 9:19 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wonder if this is related to all those mass bird deaths over recent years?
posted by SassHat at 9:19 PM on 9/8
[4 favorites −] Favorite added! [Flagged]

And mass fish deaths?

And ma
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:01 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I only heard about the pesticide issues via a discussion on their recent donation to a Romney PAC. And that only after I had just purchased a large box of Miracle-Gro, damnit.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:03 AM on September 9, 2012


Killick: "In 2011, Miracle-Gro's profits were 167 million on revenue of 2.84 billion dollars. The penalty is 7.5% of their annual profits, or 0.4% of their revenue."

That's much more than the usual pathetic fines, and I think reasonable given that there seems to be no proof that this was an order that came from on high. Yes, I would prefer more aggressive investigations and higher fines in general, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
posted by wierdo at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2012


« Older 50 Shades of Grey author E.L. James is threatening...  |  Nekrogoblikon - No One Survive... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments