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Scotts Miracle-Gro pays record fine under FIFRA

Company pleaded guilty to violating law governing use of pesticides

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has a big check to write to the federal government. The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that the garden care products company will pay a record $12.5 million in fines and civil penalties for, among other things, using insecticides in bird food, in the process violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The $12.5 million Scotts will pay includes a $4 million criminal fine and $6 million in civil penalties, which it will pay to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company also agreed to spend $2 million on environmental projects, the DOJ said.

Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn said in a statement that the company’s conduct was not in line with its corporate values.

"As we reach closure on these issues, 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,” Hagedorn said.

Ignacia Moreno, the U.S. assistant attorney general for environmental matters, said in a statement that "Scotts has a special obligation to make certain that it observes the laws."

According to the DOJ, the company treated the bird food with pesticides to protect it from infestation during storage, but the chemical it used was toxic to birds. Prosecutors also say Scotts submitted false documents to the EPA to deceive it. The company sold the illegally treated bird food for two years before recalling it in 2008.  

Read other InsideCounsel stories involving controversial chemicals:

Monsanto poisoned French farmer, court rules

Chinese drywall maker reaches $800 million settlement

Ciba-Geigy Corp. settles Superfund suit for $20 million

Wal-Mart settles haz mat case

EPA grants free access to toxic chemical database


Cathleen Flahardy

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