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Bird food maker poisoned product, and birds, to keep insects out

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday slapped $12.5 million in fines and penalties on Scotts Miracle-Gro after the company admitted it had added pesticides to its wild bird food in order to protect the product while in storage.

The EPA stated that, in an earlier plea deal, Scotts acknowledged the pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II were applied even though EPA had prohibited their use for that. 

"Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storicide II containers stating, 'Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife'," the EPA said in a statement.

Scotts sold 70 million units over two years until 2008, when it voluntarily recalled them. Six months before the recall, the EPA added, "employees specifically warned Scotts management of the dangers of these pesticides." 

"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," Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno said in the statement. "For having failed to do so, Scotts has been sentenced to pay the largest fine in the history" of the federal insecticide act.

Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn said in a statement that "new people and processes" in the company would prevent a repeat. 

"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," he said. "Our consumers are at the heart of our business, and I hope they'll see our openness, cooperation, and acceptance of responsibility are all a part of our commitment to provide products they can trust and rely upon."

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