Largest ever pesticide fines against respected US company

The largest fines under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act were imposed by a US court last week against Scotts Miracle-Gro Company in the United States. According to Scott’s, the Company ordered a recall of it wild bird seed products in 2008 when it discovered that they had been treated with a pest control product not authorized for use on wild bird food. The company voluntarily disclosed the matter to the government.

Scott’s claims that the pesticide was authorized for use on the wild bird seed products by a rogue employee without the Company’s knowledge. The same employee had created fraudulent documentation that allowed certain lawn and garden products to be marketed without proper approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The employee is still facing charges.

The pesticides were apparently added to the seed to protect it from insect pests during storage.

There is some disagreement between the Company and the press over the amount of the penalties. The Company claims that they total about $4.5 million while some press reports put the total over $12 million. Either way they are significant only as numbers, representing a tiny percentage of the Company’s $366 million profit in the quarter ended June 30th 2012. Greater harm may come from customer response, especially as Scott’s has claimed many of its lawn and garden products as “organic”.

Scott’s take on the charges is available at http://scotts.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=304 and

http://thescottsmiraclegrocompany.com/J_Hagedorn_09-12.pdf

A somewhat more interesting media take on the story, one of many, is at http://uk.news.yahoo.com/scotts-pay-big-fine-fake-pesticides-poison-bird-015159063.html

The lesson for companies in the lawn and garden products industry sector: you can never be too careful.

GallonDaily’s parent company, CIAL Group, helps companies implement environmental management regimes that can reduce the risk that problems of this kind will occur.

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