On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department said that the lawn product company, Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay $12.5 million in civil penalties and criminal fines for illegally violating regulations regarding its bird food products and including insecticides in them. In February, the company had pleaded guilty to charges of violating the federal law governing the use of pesticides.
The sentence was imposed in a federal court in Columbus, Ohio, and includes a $4 million criminal fine. The company has also separately agreed to pay more than $6 million in civil penalties to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and also agreed to spend another $2 million on environmental projects.
The Justice Department said that the two penalties are the largest in the history of the law regulating the use of pesticides in U.S. Ignacio Moreno, the U.S. assistant attorney general for environmental matters said in a statement, “Scotts has a special obligation to make certain that it observes the laws,” as it is one of the largest players in the field of pesticides meant for residential use.
The company said in a statement on its website that the conduct was inconsistent with the values of the company. The statement by Scotts Chief Executive Jim Hagedorn read, “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.”
The company had sold the illegally treated bird food for two years before voluntarily recalling the products in March 2008.
While the pesticides had been allegedly used for protecting the food from insects, the ingredients were poisonous to birds and barred by the EPA. Prosecutors said that the company had also submitted false documents to the EPA and state agencies and had tried to deceive them.