Judge Accepts Scott's Miracle-Gro Guilty Plea in Bird Seed Case

Some bird seed contained a pesticide that was harmful to birds and other wildlife. DJTaylor/Shutterstock

From staff and wire reports

Scotts Miracle-Gro has pleaded guilty to breaking federal pesticide laws by using an unapproved insecticide on bird seed that was sold across the nation.

Scotts produced wild bird seed packaged as Morning Song and Country Pride that contained an insecticide intended to prevent insects from eating the product during storage. Production began in 2005 and continued through March 2008, despite warnings from Scott's employees that the chemicals were toxic to birds.

The insecticide, which is toxic to fish, birds and other wildlife, wasn't approved for use in bird food, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. District Court Judge James Graham accepted the guilty plea from the company on Tuesday. The company has proposed that it pay a $4 million fine and give $500,000 to support the study and preservation of wildlife. Graham will make a decision on the terms of the deal at a sentencing date to be determined, the Environmental News Service reported.

The birdseed in question was coated with Storcide II, a chemical insecticide accompanied by warning labels that read: “Toxic to birds, toxic to wildlife” and “Exposed treated seed may be hazardous to birds.” The birdseed was also coated with Actellic 5E, an insecticide containing the active ingredient pirimiphos-methyl. Actellic 5E is unapproved by the government for use on birdseed, which is how Scotts breached federal pesticide laws.

The company is also under scrutiny for marketing two garden pesticides without obtaining proper registration from the Environmental Protection Agency, says the Columbus-Dispatch. In that case, a Scotts manager is accused of fabricating federal documents and correspondence between the company and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).