I always wondered what Scotts was doing in the birdseed business anyway.
The Scotts Company, after all, is the maker of Ortho® insect killers, Scotts® GrubEx® Season-Long Grub Killer, Miracle-Gro® Garden Weed Preventer, and Roundup® (which uses the word "kill" no fewer than 7 times on its webpage!)
And Scotts, after all, is in the Monsanto Company. Yes, THAT Monsanto Company - the maker of DDT, Agent Orange, bovine growth hormones, and PCBs. THAT Monsanto that is responsible for numerous Superfund sites. THAT Monsanto that acquired a company that patented a seed technology nicknamed "Terminators". How prescient!
In my mind, chemicals (especially those you apply to lawns and gardens, trees, plants, and shrubs to KILL things), birds, and birdseed just don't mix. In the most simple sense:
- When chemicals are applied to kill insects, those chemicals are coating and killing the same insects that birds (as well as countless other wildlife) eat.
- When chemicals are applied to kill weeds or less-than-desireable grasses in lawns and gardens, those chemicals coat the surfaces where birds forage for food.
So when the maker of such chemicals entered the birdfeeding business, I was shocked.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I co-own and operate a wild bird feeding hobby store (see postscript below).
Scotts Wild Bird Foods took off flying with a marketing campaign to convince birdfeeding hobby enthusiasts that their birdseed attracted more colorful birds than other birdseed. Who doesn't want lots of colorful birds like Indigo Buntings, Northern Cardinals, and American Goldfinches at their birdfeeders (and all at one time!) But I'll refrain from going down that avenue...(she jests: "get more colorful birds with birdseed coated with leftover Agent Orange.")
Scotts named their birdseed blends with happy, placid names like "Country Pride" (how patriotic) and "Morning Song". Little did we know that that very "Morning Song" blend could be a "Mourning Song" for the birds that ate it.
You see, Scotts has recently pled GUILTY to violating federal pesticide laws by using an unapproved insecticide on their birdseed. Since 2005, their "Morning Song" and "Country Pride" birdseed was laced with these unapproved insecticides that are TOXIC to the very birds their customers were trying to attract and feed!
To add insult to injury, a staff chemist and ornithologist WARNED Scotts about the dangers of these chemicals.
The chemicals were added by Scotts to try to keep insects from infesting the seed. Let's see...they added chemicals to protect the seed from spoiling (and thus protect their profits) but that killed the birds that ate it. Hmmm....
Millions and millions of bags of this chemical-coated seed were sold to unsuspecting hobby enthusiasts across the country. And we'll never know how many birds (and other wildlife) perished as a result of Scotts profits-over-environmental safety philosophy and irresponsibility in dismissing warnings.
My personal response will be a rejection of all products that I'm aware of that Monsanto/Scotts manufactures. I already refrain from using lawn or garden chemicals, but as I peruse ads selling gardening products for the upcoming season, I will avoid the MiracleGro-brand plant foods and the potting mixes I have used in the past. It will be hard to do - the garden shops I go to have an abundance of Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Ortho, and Round-up products.
No one says doing the right thing is always easy. There are other choices out there, you just might have to look a little harder.
My colorful goldfinches (attracted just fine without Scotts so-called "Colorful Bird" blend) will do just fine without a Monsanto/Scotts product of any type in their bloodstream.
Postscript: I want readers to know that even though I own a birdfeeding hobby store, I can honestly say that Scotts' presence in the birdseed business has not and does not impact my business, financially or otherwise. This post was written without any vendetta-fueled hostility towards Scotts or Monsanto; rather, it voices my passionate concern for the birds, wildlife, and the environment as a whole.