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Scotts Miracle-Gro pleads guilty to knowingly poisoning bird seed

Over the past few weeks, pretty disturbing news has come out that Scotts Miracle-Gro knowingly violated US federal laws by manufacturing and selling poisoned bird seed for an incredible two years.

Last month, the company pleaded guilty in court for putting pesticides in two of their brands of bird seed called “Morning Song” and “Country Pride.” What makes all this unfortunate event ten times worse than it already is is that they did it knowingly. Here’s more from

According to court records, in 2008, Scotts distributed 73 million packages of bird seed coated with the insecticides Storcide II, containing the active ingredient chlorpyrifos, and and Actellic 5E, containing the active ingredient pirimiphos-methyl, intended to keep insects from destroying the seed.

The company continued to produce and market the insecticide-coated seeds despite being alerted to toxicity dangers by a Scotts staff chemist and ornithologist.

Scotts apparently added Storcide, a pesticide, to the bird seed in an attempt to keep away insects during the storage phase. Since Storcide is known to be lethal to birds (there is a label on the package of Storcide that says the pesticide is toxic to birds), the company definitely knew what they were putting into their bird seed. Yet, Scotts continued to put the pesticide into the seed without letting its customers know.

There was a great article from The Guardian by biologist GrrlScientist, which pointed out that from the 73 million bags of poisonous seeds, only 2 million were recalled. Here’s a disheartening paragraph from her amazing piece:

But it would appear that not all sellers were aware of this product recall. I found one story about a San Diego county couple who lost nearly all of their domestic aviary birds at the end of January 2010 after feeding Scotts Miracle-Gro Morning Song Wild Bird Seed that they had recently purchased from a local Wal-Mart. Out of a flock numbering nearly 100 birds, only eight survived. I mention this to illustrate how poisonous this seed is to birds, how many birds can die after eating just one meal of this poisoned seed, and to show that the damages caused by these products may still be occurring.

As of right now, the proposed penalty would be $5 million and an extra $500,000 going to support wildlife study and conservation. Despite this proposal, it’s impossible to put a price on the potentially millions of birds that met their end at the knowing hands of executives.

On the Wild Bird Marketing website, there’s a press release that seems to act as spin control calling the media reports possibly “overblown” and citing an excuse for the incident as there potentially being no EPA inspector. Regardless, the company admitted to these egregious violations. There definitely needs to be more oversight in the process to prevent things like this.

In the meantime, if this is the first you’re hearing about it and happen to have some of this tainted seed, do not continue putting it in your bird feeders.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. […] this year, I wrote about the disturbing news that Scotts Miracle-Gro had knowingly put insecticides in its bird feed—despite the fact that the chemicals were known to be toxic to birds. Needless to say, many of you […]

  2. I am gathering information for possible legal action regarding the bird food recall.

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