Have you been filling your bird feeder with a Scotts Miracle-Gro brand of birdseed? If so, you might have been poisoning birds instead of serving them a nice snack. In January, Scotts pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that from 2005 to 2008 it distributed 73 million units of birdseed coated with insecticides called Storcide II and Actellic 5E – chemicals which were intended to keep insects from eating the seed. The problem? Bug-zapping chemicals like Storcide II can also be lethal to birds, a fact that Scotts looked past when producing and selling its feed .

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According to the Environmental News Service, Storcide II is labeled as “Toxic to birds,” “Toxic to wildlife,” and the label also offers this unambiguous warning: “Exposed treated seed may be hazardous to birds.” So yeah, Scotts probably knew that it was selling bird seed that was toxic to birds. In the lawsuit, the government revealed that Scotts continued to use the insecticide after two employees warned the company that it could be a potential threat to birds.

To make matters worse, a Scotts manager reportedly fabricated documents to make it seem as though the insecticides in question had been reviewed by the EPA when in fact they had not. Earlier this week, a judge in Columbus, Ohio accepted Scotts’ guilty plea, and although a sentence hasn’t been handed down just yet, the company is expected to have to pay a $4 million fine and donate $500,000 for wildlife studies and preservation.

Lead photo © Flickr user likeaduck

via Grist