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Scotts Insecticide Was for the Birds

Because its top-selling bird seed came with a little poison, a guilty plea has been entered for the $3 billion Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.

In pleading guilty to breaking federal pesticide laws, Ohio-based Scotts offered to pay a $4 million fine and expressed its willingness to make a $500,000 contribution to wildlife conservation.

All to settle up for selling 73 million packages of bird seed, with names like “Morning Song” and “Country Pride,” that for about two years between 2005 and 2008 were coated with an insecticide the government says is not approved for bird food because it can be toxic.

Court records indicate Scotts was trying to keep insects out of the bird seed during storage.

U.S. District Court Judge James Graham in Columbus, OH, in accepting the guilty plea this week, said he would rule on the financial penalty at sentencing.

Government attorneys alleged that Scotts used the insecticide even though two employees said it could put birds at risk, and fabricated federal documents and correspondence  to obtain state registration of two products that were marketed without approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Scotts has declined to comment on the case pending sentencing.

The Ohio-based Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Scotts Company LLC, is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care.

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