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You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me

So y’all heard me complaining a few days ago about the National Wildlife Federation partnering with Scotts Miracle-Gro, purveyers of fertilizers and bug-sprays and other things that make ponds and wetlands Very Sad, kill helpful bugs, etc, etc, ad deathium.

The blog-o-sphere was not happy about this, although the NWF is going out of its way to dismiss the complaints as all coming from crazy fringe organic gardeners. (I think it’s probably more widespread, but as I myself am a crazy fringe more-or-less organic gardener, I am hardly able to make a case.)

Today, we get the word that Scotts just got fined for—I kid you not—selling toxic birdseed.

And also they apparently falsified EPA numbers on their pesticides, so it looked like things had been approved that maybe kinda sorta were never actually approved by the EPA. Which is arguably much worse—hell, they recalled the birdseed—but if one were looking for a visceral argument about Why The NWF Should Not Climb Into This Bed, I don’t know that it gets any more visceral than “By the way, we sold killer birdseed!”

Well, it’s obvious to me at least that Scotts saw this coming and said “Crud! Who can greenwash us before this hits the news?” and jumped on the NWF. My real question is whether the NWF knew it was coming, or whether they got blindsided, which more or less works out to “Were you dumb and naive?” (arguably forgivable) vs. “Were you completely out of your ever-lovin’ MIND?”

Meanwhile, the amount of PR babble coming out of NWF is so thick that I feel the need to up my Corpspeak skill. Aztechnology’s got nuthin’ on these guys…

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

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(Deleted comment)
The question is it a datagrab, or just smashing stuff til Lone Star and Knight Errant show up?

Scotts is bad enough that even my boyfriend, who is a commercial tree-farmer with an unnatural LOVE of chemical fertilizers and pest/weed control, won't go near their products.

It is more widespread. My gardening amounts to a 10 square foot plot out back of our apartment (I dream of the day when I can have a proper one) and I don't make a point to source organic or always avoid chemicals (I usually do, but when you rent, you don't always control it.) I also don't run screaming from anything labeled GMO. I think Monsanto is evil incarnate, but the tech has potential.

A long way of saying I am not the hippie dippy they think has a problem with this, and I have a major problem with this.

Oh look, there's a way to create more jobs! Let's get weed pickers instead of creating super-resilient plants!

This is how we created MRSA with antibiotics, but we can't learn, no.

To be fair, continually racing evolution is not necessarily a bad thing in this case, because a) we don't need these herbicides for anything else more vital (unlike in the case of feeding antibiotics to livestock), b) plants don't crossbreed with other species of plant, thus the immunity won't spread outside of agricultural weeds, and c) you buy some time (per fenris_lorsrai, apparently about six years?) during which the new herbicide is effective.

If the value of having a working herbicide for six years is worth the effort of producing corn that's immune to that herbicide, then they'll keep doing this. And since practically all cases where you want to control weeds outside of agriculture, you're working by hand, you don't really care that these weeds might be resistant to every herbicide out there. They aren't going to be resistant to having their roots pulled out. Well, unless you're trying to pull out oak saplings. Those things have a gigantic taproot...

Unfortunately, plants do crossbreed with other species, and even other genuses, of plants. There's some evidence that GMO traits in crop plants have transferred to nearby plants. A one-in-a-billion chance turns into a near certainty with a millions of plants and a few years.

Actually, 'million to one' chances works about 9 times out of 10...
But it must be an exact million.

'It might be a nine-hundred and ninetynine thousand and nine-hundred and ninetynine to one shot, but it might just work'... doesn't really work does it?
(May Terry Pratchett ever forgive me for mangling quotes from 'Guards Guards')

I haven't studied the maths for billion-to-one shots, though I guess they would crop up around 989 times out of 1000
Nature loves a long shot...

And plants cross-pollinate so often that it sometimes seems more the rule than the exception...

Oh, to be able to attend a meeting of panic at NWF...

This was severely idiotic on the part of NWF, and pretty damn smart on the part of Scotts.

I don't know if I can really throw stones at NWF, the Aquarium I work for took money from BP a year before the spill and all the publicity that entailed. Can't say I'm happy with either decision to partner up with big, dirty corporations, but apparently no one else is willing to give a few million to do the good that we can do.

**headdesk, headdesk, HEADDESK** Oh, for crying out LOUD, Scotts--- I think you nailed it, they were looking for a buddy to use as a shield when the shit hit the fan (as they knew it would eventually.) Pretty piss-poor behavior on their part, pardon the language; the individuals responsible for this debacle should be dipped headfirst into a vat of Scott's own finest liquid fertilizer to see if they can grow some responsibility. >_<

Edited at 2012-01-27 10:37 pm (UTC)

I knew there had to be a petition somewhere about this. Quick search came up with...


For whatever it's worth I'm putting my name down and spreading the word.

Wow.... that is all kinds of impressive. That's super villain level disregard for everything. I'd say 'Captain Planet' villain, but most of those didn't seem to have a way to make money off their schemes.

I'd say Scotts got off damn lucky/easy with the toxic birdseed, considering how much spilled birdseed my mother's dogs tend to eat. People would take it even less well if their pets got sick/died from that. For that matter, I occasionally ate birdseed as a kid. Though I'm betting they figure it is more cost effective to deal with the litigation and fines then to make non-toxic products.

NWF sends me too much paperwork (starting renewal notices at the halfway point of an annual membership for one) for me to take them seriously as a conservation organization. Took a lot of consideration before I renewed last time, but this Scotts partnership thing definitely means my money will go elsewhere in the future. Doesn't matter if they withdraw from it or not, that it went as far as it did is clear evidence that the people in charge should never have been put in charge and all the spin-doctoring they are attempting is just making it worse for them.

(Deleted comment)
It said in the article they added them to keep insects from eating it in storage. And I'm willing to bet that loss of volume was the only concern. After all, what are the chances that people would check birdseed for toxins?

the NWF is going out of its way to dismiss the complaints as all coming from crazy fringe organic gardeners.
The environmental conservation organization

is dismissing its critics

as being too interested in environmental conservation.

We're kinda through the looking glass on this one.

My brother come up with this.

Scotts has a choice to pee on your back porch (10 steps) or the outhouse (50 steps). If they chose your porch It thaks 200 steps to mop it up.

We just decovred a big puddle of pee.

Dumb move by NWF, but the accounting might work in their favour. One big corporate donor is equal to 50,000 individual donors, and the corporation requires a lot less manpower to wine-n-dine!

But that doesn't account for the costs of being seen as a sellout and greenwasher.

Yeah, that's the depressing thing. Despite all our kicking and screaming, we will eventually get bored/tired/discouraged and go away, and the NWF still gets a big check. All they have to do is weather the outrage.

Wow. That's ... pretty darn amazing. I was a bit boggled at that team-up anyway, and cynical ol' me was wondering if there wasn't something behind the scenes.

Yeesh, now I'm actually glad I've been too broke recently to renew my membership.

I've always made it a point to avoid Miracle Gro. I can't say I'm surprised by what they've done. Let's hope the NWF was simply naive, though I have my doubts.

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