Monday, April 28, 2008

Scotts Miracle-Gro Recalls Pesticides After Rogue Employee Discovered

Lawn Chemicals Were Improperly Labeled and Not EPA-Registered

This week the EPA has ordered Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. to stop selling and distributing two pesticide products that have not been registered with the EPA. The pesticides are "Garden Weed Preventer + Plant Food" and "SLS Fertilizer With .28 Halts," and they are in common use on lawns.

Why? According to the government, the products were not registered with the EPA, and carry invalid EPA registration numbers. This means the agency has not had a chance to review any information about the safety of the products.

Scotts is currently setting up a way for collecting any sold product, and the EPA has issued a stop order for all retailers to cease distribution. To determine if you already bought one of these items, look for these numbers: 62355-4 (garden weed prevention products) and 538-304 (SLS fertilizer). Regulators advise you to then store any product in a cool, dry place and contact Scotts or your retail outlet. You can call the EPA at 888-838-1304.

How did this happen? According to AP reports, the chairman of Scotts, Jim Hagedorn, has said the company has recently learned that a now-fired employee had "deliberately circumvented company policies, caused invalid product registration forms to be submitted to federal and state regulators and then hid those actions from co-workers and manager."

Scotts is reportedly investigating the employee's actions, and has also issued a recall for fertilizer products sold under the "Bonus S Max" and "Turf Builder Plus 2 Max" names. Although those products had been issued proper EPA registrations, it turns out the packaging was printed incorrectly.

Hagedorn says the company will be taking steps to tighten up its internal procedures, and is looking to hire a consulting firm to review policies.

Although risk to consumers seems low with this recall, the very fact that unregistered pesticides were sold for some time should give another reason to use the most natural, organic treatments possible on lawns. It's obvious that there are major cracks in our regulatory framework.

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