Posts tagged: regulation
Did you know that vital parts of the US law are secret, and you’re only allowed to read them if you pay a standards body thousands of dollars for the right to find out what the law of the land is?
Public.Resource.Org spent $7,414.26 buying privately-produced technical public safety standards that have been incorporated into U.S. federal law. These public safety standards govern and protect a wide range of activity, from how bicycle helmets are constructed to how to test for lead in water to the safety characteristics of hearing aids and protective footwear. We have started copying those 73 standards despite the fact they are festooned with copyright warnings, shrinkwrap agreements, and other dire warnings. The reason we are making those copies is because citizens have the right to read and speak the laws that we are required to obey and which are critical to the public safety.
When Peter Veeck posted the Building Code of Savoy, Texas on the Web, the standards people came after him with a legal baseball bat. The standards people run private nonprofit organizations that draft model laws that states then adopt as law, through a mechanism known as incorporation by reference.
A few days ago, Scotts Miracle-Gro (whose brands include Ortho, Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Roundup, Earthgro, Black Magic, Hyponex, Osmocote, Morning Song, Whitney Farms, Supersoil, Bovung, and Country Pride) agreed to plead guilty and pay $4.5 million in fines, for not one but two product safety incidents.
The first incident involved selling wild birdseed that was coated with a pesticide that is toxic to birds. The company coated their birdseed so that it would not be eaten by insects while in storage, and continued to do so even after multiple warnings from their own employees that it was “extremely toxic”.
The second (and separate) incident involved falsifying EPA pesticide registrations for their lawn and garden products, even going so far as to tell the EPA that they must have lost their files.
And what steps is the company taking to recover from this? They just announced that they are increasing spending on advertising 28% to $141 million total (31 times the amount of the fine). This includes a deal with Major League Baseball to hang “Scotts is Used Here” banners in ballparks to “give homeowners the illusion that they can have Fenway Park in their back yard just by dumping on some Weed ‘N Feed”. Even worse, Scotts just announced a “partnership” with the National Wildlife Federation, which sounds like a blatant attempt to greenwash their bad reputation.
Meanwhile, Scotts is leading a battle in Florida to overturn bans on the use of nitrogen fertilizer on lawns during the summer. These fertilizers wash off during the rainy summer season and cause massive (and toxic) blooms of red-tide and green slime, hurting not just wildlife but also tourism, but the bans are bad for Scott’s profits.
Oh, and Jim Hagedorn, the CEO who was ultimately responsible for all this? Still at the helm of the company, despite comments like this:
Hagedorn is the sole reason for this issue. He has created a toxic culture (literally) based purely on profit and greed and his warped business sense. I know quite a few former Scotts employees that are highly talented and very ethical people that were pushed out by Hagedorn in his effort to create high turnover in order to “keep ideas fresh”.
Hagedorn makes Mr. Burns look angelic. He is the poster child for what’s wrong with corporate america.
You know, some politicians say that we don’t need regulations, that consumers should just stop buying products from companies they don’t like. As for the former, we would never have known about this company selling deadly birdseed if not for the federal government. But as for the latter, it sounds like a consumer boycott would be a very good idea.