The Scott-Miracle-Gro Co., which has roots on Long Island, found itself with over $4 million in fines after pleading guilty to a number of criminal acts involving the illegal application of insecticides to wild bird seed, which was knowingly toxic to birds. Scotts, which is the world’s largest marketer of residential pesticides, also now holds the title of being the company hit with the largest fine in history under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
In a separate civil agreement with the EPA, Scotts agreed to pay more than $6 million in penalties and spend $2 million on environmental projects to resolve additional civil pesticide violations. The violations include distributing or selling unregistered, canceled or misbranded pesticides, including products with inadequate warnings or cautions.
For a company that had over $2.84 billion in sales last year, it is easy to imagine that the legal loss itself hurt more than the $12 million in fines did. The ruling served as a warning to Scotts and many other large corporations that they are not above the law and are not exempt from penalties.
This historic case of private industry vs. the federal government comes at a time when many elected officials and candidates are calling for a deregulation of industry and decentralization of federal environment oversight. If environmental regulations were done away with, would a state court have had the staff, expertise and necessary proof to come to this ruling against such a powerful and resourceful company that not only operates across state lines, but around the world?