scotts miracle-gro fined for tainting birdseed

PUBLIC-SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: The Department of Justice sentenced the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company last week to $12.5 million in criminal and civil fines, for tainting wild bird food with insecticides. “Scotts pleaded guilty in February 2012 to illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds, falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels and distributing unregistered pesticides,” the DOJ announcement stated. Shop smart, gardeners and bird-lovers: The Scotts portfolio of brands includes not just their ubiquitous fertilizer and lawn seed plus Miracle-Gro fertilizer and potting soils, but also Osmocote, Ortho (fungicides, pesticides, herbicides and more), Peters soluble fertilizer (through their professional division, Everris), and of course Roundup, a Monsanto creation. Enough said. (Doodle by Andre Jordan, of course.)

Categoriesbird sh-t Nature
  1. Shirley B. says:

    I am appalled and shocked! I am so distraught that such a big and “trusted” company would do such a thing! I do most of my gardening in containers and swear by miracle grow potting soil. Margaret, (other than making it myself, which is just not feasable) can you reccommend an alternative that I might have access to in Southeast Texas?

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Shirley. I think the most important thing we can each do is march into our garden centers and say: What will you stock to sell me instead? Here we can get various alternatives, but heavy items like this are indeed often regionally based, as you imply, so I think ask the garden center what else they can recommend. (My local place has 3 or 4 brands, besides Scotts.)

  2. Donna B. says:

    … just a small victory for the gardener’s that see right through their charade – but a victory in the RIGHT direction! I’m happy I threw away a bottle of Oscomote that was gifted to me by a friend. I would NEVER use any of their products…

  3. Bob says:

    Scott’s rejoinder (http://thescottsmiraclegrocompany.com/J_Hagedorn_09-12.pdf) makes for interesting reading. While I tend to be somewhat reassured by their explanations, one quote did take me aback: “The wild bird food products had been treated with pest control additives to avoid insect infestation, which is a standard practice in the wild bird food industry… In this particular case, while the pest control additives had been approved for use on certain stored grains that can be processed for human and/or animal consumption, they were not approved for use on wild bird food products.” Yipes, not safe for birds but OK for you and me?! And by the way, the $12 Million in fines is an insignificant ingredient in Scott’s over $1 Billion in profits in each of the last 2 years.

  4. Sharon says:

    Oh good heavens. I guess I know who’s not getting any more of my money.

    I’ve been writing a Toastmaster’s speech on the dangers of synthetic fertilizer and herbicide use, and organic alternatives. I’m definitely going to be including this little tidbit to help drive my point across.

  5. Gretchen says:

    Why am I not surprised by this? Because about 3 years ago I bought 15 bags of Whitney Farms chicken manure and found chicken bones in nearly every bag! When I went back to the nursery to lodge a complaint the owner informed me that Whitney Farms had been purchased by Scott’s and the products and sales relationship were suffering as a result. I contacted the company and they reimbursed me (to their credit) for the bags I had used to date. That whole experience queered me on the WF label. Every time I till my veg garden I am still finding bones.

  6. Leslie says:

    I read the DOJ and EPA decisions but didn’t find any identification of what brands of bird feed were affected by this pesticide misuse. Is use of Scott’s pesticides so pervasive that just about any bird feed I purchased during years stipulated were possibly harmful to my feathered pals? What a horrible thought!

    Every year the White Throated Sparrows showed up in October under the same large bush cheep-cheeping for me to feed them until it was time to fly back to Canada whe it was warm enough the next Spring. Along with year round yardigans like 3 species Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, Black Capped Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, Blue Jays and more they were such a source of joy and amazement. I even shoveled “their spot” first during snowfall so they’d have food energy to keep them warm during the night. As you can see, I was a sucker for those birds.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Leslie. I have only seen these brands mentioned as affected, but am not sure: “Morning Song,” “Country Pride,” “Scotts Songbird Selections” and “Scotts Wild Bird Food.” Will keep looking! Nice to see you.

  7. Leslie says:

    Thank you for brand IDs of birdfeed affected by Scott’s pesticides.

    Funny that I’ve followed both you and Gayla Trail. You both have traveled your own paths and created lives which are realization of your truest selves. I’m a bit jealous but in a good way!

    Visiting your respite in the country through this blog is my vicarious “soul vacation”. Thank you for sharing so generously.

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