Disclaimer: Crossing The Line? poses questions for readers to consider. Authors are not licensed medical or legal professionals. Consider the issues, and draw your own conclusions.
For this issue, the subject is corporations crossing the line with products that have a good chance of causing harm. When does profit (monetary gain) sway corporations to look the other way on safety? How much money does it take for a company to put bad products out for customers to purchase?
While there are several examples that come to mind, for this Crossing The Line the focus is on the sale of bird seed covered in known bird poisons. No, I’m not making this up! A bird seed company actually put chemicals poisonous to birds on bird seed and sold it from 2005 to Spring 2008.
By the time the poison product came to light, more than 70 million bags of bird seed had been sold.
According to the Department of Justice (DoJ)
“Scotts pleaded guilty in February 2012 to illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds, falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels and distributing unregistered pesticides.”
In the plea agreement, the DoJ said that Scotts admitted that it applied the pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II to its bird food products to protect its bird foods from insect infestation during storage. They used these products 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.”
Unfortunately, the birds that became ill or died from eating the seed — devotedly distributed to them by bird lovers — cannot be counted nor recovered.
So, how much money does it take for a business to put bad products out for customers to buy? In the bird seed case, one can only guess it was millions of dollars. The corporation was fined $12.5 Million in 2012 for their actions; likely a drop in their bucket.
You might think this is an aberration; companies wouldn’t want to do harm in general, right? They would try to make safe products, one would like to think. But, like the bird toxins in the bird seed, there are chemicals known to cause disease in other products. Unless a government agency steps in to stop use, or changes regulations, these corporations might just continue pushing out bad products and raking in profits.
While the true cost of chemical-laden products likely won’t be known for years, the best we can do is ask that companies be held accountable when caught. You might protect yourself by buying from businesses you feel you can trust, or making products from scratch.