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From July 27, 2006                                                                                                        

California Fines Corporations For Unreported Pesticide Sales
(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2006) The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is fining several companies a total of $700,000 in back payment and penalties resulting from under-reported pesticide sales throughout the past year. The Central Valley Business Times reports that California taxes pesticide sales 2.1 cents for every dollar of the price and collected $46.2 million from pesticides in the past fiscal year, which ended June 30. These fees are used for California’s pesticide regulation enforcement, health and safety programs, and other necessary environmental management activities. According to the Sacramento Business Journal, DPR’s director Mary-Ann Warmerdam emphasized that “every dollar of pesticide fees that goes unpaid hurts our efforts to protect the public.”

Some of the companies being investigated are large national chains including:

  • PetSmart, whose fees were the greatest of the three, amounting to $330,000 dollars owed this year.
  • Rite Aid Corp., although primarily a pharmacy chain, must pay California $38,000 for sales approaching $2 million.
  • Terminix, a unit of ServiceMaster Co., was forced to compensate the state with more than $283,000 in late penalties for sales totaling $12.8 million since 2003. Two years ago they agreed to pay a similar amount for previous violations, indicating that although the fines do benefit the state’s programs, they are not sufficient enough to ensure future cooperation from the corporation.

The DPR estimates that a total of $34 million in unreported pesticides were sold over the past year. These figures are the result of state audits into pesticide sellers designed to ensure fair sales practices and decent environmental regulation to benefit all California residents. Each time a sale goes unreported, the state loses money it could have used to protect the public from detrimental environmental and health effects resulting from the use of toxic pesticides.

TAKE ACTION! Although these fees are a good step towards the protection of the public from the potential adverse effects of pesticides, consumers should ask all retailers, especially big box stores, to phase out the use of toxic pesticides in favor of environmentally friendly alternatives. That is why, on April 13, 2005, Beyond Pesticides and 19 consumer and environmental groups asked the national headquarters of Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement, two of the largest home and garden retailers, to carry a full range of organic, non-toxic lawn care products. Recent surveys show almost half of all households buying lawn care products are seeking non-toxic alternatives. Fourteen of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides are ‘probable’ or ‘possible’ carcinogens with studies linked to cancer. These groups have created an online Declaration on the Use of Toxic Lawn Pesticides and formation of the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns, a growing popular movement of consumer and environmental groups, coming together to educate the public, retailers, landscapers and policy makers about the hazards of lawn chemicals and the viability of safe alternatives.

To sign the Declaration and read the background materials, visit http://www.pesticidefreelawns.org.