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Scotts Miracle-Gro to pay big fine

  |   Sept. 8, 2012 at 7:35 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay a record $12.5 million in penalties for illegally using insecticides on its wild bird food products, U.S. prosecutors say.

The Ohio maker of pesticides for commercial and consumer lawn and garden uses was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Columbus to pay a record $4 million fine and perform community service for 11 criminal violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the U.S. Justice Department said in a release on its Web site.

Separately, Scotts reached a civil agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under which it will pay record penalties of more than $6 million and spend $2 million on environmental projects to settle additional civil pesticide violations.

Scotts pleaded guilty in February to illegally applying insecticides that are toxic to birds, falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels, and distributing unregistered pesticides.

The civil settlement involved distributing or selling unregistered, canceled or misbranded pesticides, including products with inadequate warnings or cautions.

"As the world's largest marketer of residential use pesticides, Scotts has a special obligation to make certain that it observes the laws governing the sale and use of its products," Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division of the Department of Justice. "For having failed to do so, Scotts has been sentenced to pay the largest fine in the history of FIFRA enforcement."

Scotts said 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.

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, the Justice Department said.

Scotts admitted submitting false documents to EPA and state regulatory agencies regarding pesticides it used.

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