National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Scotts: Disappointing and Disturbing News

This past week I became aware of some shocking news: both the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Scotts Miracle-Gro was proud to announce they were partnering. In their press release on January 18, 2012 stating,

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and ScottsMiracle-Gro are announcing a new partnership to advance NWF’s nationwide Be Out There initiative to connect children with nature. As the national presenting sponsor, ScottsMiracle-Gro will enhance NWF’s programs to create green spaces and attract wildlife to backyards and communities across the country.

“During our support of the NWF’s wildlife relief work in the Gulf of Mexico, we realized how many similarities our organizations shared – and started exploring ways to work together,” said Jim Lyski, executive vice president, ScottsMiracle-Gro. “NWF offers a unique perspective that we believe can help shape our sustainability initiatives, and proactively engage thought leaders on constructively developing solutions to environmental and societal challenges. This partnership for us is about building a business that leaves our world better off than we found it.”

Is That Stretching Our Abilities to Believe Them 

Yes folks, you read that right… Scotts Miracle-Gro, LLC (the LLC, Limited Liability Corporation status protects them from losing everything when their products kill people and other living things in the environment) is into sustainability, since when? Unless Scotts is making huge steps behind the scenes in regards to sustainability one must stretch their imagination to believe their statement.

Apparently, Scotts was moved by the NWF efforts during cleaning up the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 and realized they (Miracle-Gro, RoundUp, Ortho, and other extremely toxic products) had a lot in common with the National Wildlife Federation…??? The only thing that these two have in common is landscapes and yard care, however, both have distinctly different approaches.

The NWF promotes using non-invasive and non-chemical techniques, and organic or IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Whereas, Scotts uses toxic chemicals to kill anything and everything in the environment, weeds to insects; causing a great deal of toxic pollution in the process.

The NWF does not make chemical products that can be patented, whereas Scotts does. Scotts will NEVER make truly natural products because current laws do not support patenting stuff that comes from nature without being altered. So while NWF ‘sells’ to us how you can take your raked leaves and put them back into the soil to create better soil tilth, Scotts tries to come up with a chemical(s) they can patent that put chemical nutrition into your soil – note that chemical (natural products or otherwise) will never in a million years give your yard or garden good soil tilth!

On their Facebook page NWF, as the result of supporters concerns, on January 25, 2012 attempted to address their concerns and questions. National Wildlife Federation CEO Larry Schweiger spoke live and online about the decision and what it means for the future of the organization, you can watch the video chat and read the transcript to answer very upset consumer and supporters concerns.

This ‘partnership’ has been in the works for about a year and a half now. Here are some facts and details that may help you form a better opinion and choice about what’s going on…

About the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

The NWF is a non-profit 501(c)3.

Taken directly from the NWF website:

Our Mission

National Wildlife Federation® — Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.

To protect wildlife and their habitat, work to restore and maintain healthy ecosystems, and strive to educate and inspire Americans to safeguard our natural heritage.

Funding: In fiscal year 2010, National Wildlife Federation revenues totaled $100 million, with 70 percent coming from supporters through memberships and publications. Nearly $46 million in donations and bequests came from generous individual donors including our members and received 181 funding grants from foundations and corporations (see their 2010 Annual Report Financial Overview).

The NWF also has helped citizens learn about the dangers of fracking and our drinking water, how global warming is affecting our weather, has an action fund to fight for starving polar bears, they’ve brought publications like Ranger Rick and Big Backyard to our children for decades, the popular Backyard Wildlife Certification, and much more.

Quote from Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens website…

Let’s consider what happens when you attempt to poison pests. A general insecticide (organic or not) will kill the majority of bugs in an area, but more than 90 percent of them were beneficial or benign. Predators such as bats, frogs, lizards, and birds will go elsewhere to feed and even the microbes in your soil may die.

As your landscape recovers from the poisoning, bugs will begin to multiply again, but since you’ve killed off the beneficial insects that used to keep them under control, the birds, bats, lizards, and the toads that survived the poisoning have moved away to areas where they can make a living. Many harmful bugs, possibly including new pests that were previously controlled, will recover in even greater numbers than before. You spray again and the process repeats itself and each time the most damaging pests will recover in ever increasing numbers. Repeated poisonings often foster resistance to that pesticide, and people then switch to even stronger poisons in higher concentrations. It’s time to break that cycle of poison escalation and manage your landscape as a complete ecosystem by using Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

About Scotts Miracle-Gro

ScottsMiracle-Gro has approximately $3 billion in worldwide sales, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Scotts Company LLC, is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care.

The Company’s brands are the most recognized in the industry. In the U.S., the Company’s Scotts®, Miracle-Gro® and Ortho® brands are market-leading in their categories, as is the consumer Roundup® brand, which is marketed in North America and most of Europe exclusively by Scotts and owned by Monsanto. In the U.S., they operate Scotts LawnService®, the second largest residential lawn care service business. In Europe, the Company’s brands include Weedol®, Pathclear®, Evergreen®, Levington®, Miracle-Gro®, KB®, Fertiligene® and Substral®.

Consumer’s Red Flags Shoot-Up Like a Rocket with the Mention of Monsanto

The reason for all the concern about this partnership is the fact that Scotts (all of its brands) are owned by Monsanto, who is responsible for the creation of GM (Genetically Modified) seeds and plants, and their line of RoundUp Ready seeds and plants. Yes, the frankin foods that are responsible for perhaps most of our health issues today, and quite possibly the cause of many species in decline, such as the Honey Bee populations.

I will not go into the wrong deeds of Monsanto in this post but you can read more about what they have done in these other posts I’ve written:

Growing Flax: a story of beauty, health, prosperity and ruin

The Trail of Corn: going where no man (or woman) has gone before

GM Canola Found Growing Along Roadsides

And, earlier this month the first ever and most comprehensive study on GMO corn (how it is connected to organ damage) was released stating that GM corn (fed to rats for only 90 days)…

“clearly underlines adverse impacts on kidneys and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, as well as different levels of damages to heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system,” reported Gilles-Eric Séralini, molecular biologist at the University of Caen.

Reasoning Behind the Partnership of National Wildlife Federation and Scotts

December 11, 2011 – Scotts Miracle-Gro, Co. expects to lose more than $70 million on lower sales and higher material costs in its fiscal first quarter ending Dec. 31st. But Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn said in a release that the company still is confident that it can perform well in 2012. The first quarter historically represents less than 10 percent of annual sales at Scotts (NYSE: SMG).

During 2011, poor weather and higher costs ate into Scotts’ net income, which fell 17.7 percent to $167.9 million, or $2.60 a share.

January 19, 2012 – Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. Announced Results of their Annual Shareholder’s Meeting: re-elected four members of the Company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately, for three-year terms that expire in 2015. Scotts Investor Relations website.

January 19, 2012 – Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn made the proclamation the Scotts Miracle-Gro company is swearing off price increases for 2012. Hagedorn said as commodity costs rose in recent years, Scotts raised prices to maintain its profit margins. But he said the scale for consumers tipped last year and the number of items sold, especially in the fertilizer segment, suffered.

“If we’re going to grow the category long term, we can’t get there by taking steps that result in unit declines. Is this going to impact margins? Yes. Are we happy about it [the additional cost in their new advertising campaign]? No. But it’s the right step for our business and our consumers.”

Scotts plans to spend $181 million on advertising during 2012 trying to convince us that their products are good and dare I say ‘Green’, a 28 percent increase from the $141 million spent last year!

Greenwashing to Increase Shareholder Profits

At the meeting, CEO Jim Hagedorn expressed confidence in the upcoming lawn and garden season of 2012 and reaffirmed the company’s outlook to grow sales by at least 6 percent. Hagedorn also discussed their decision and advertising for the upcoming season.

In the video (above link) by NWF’s CEO Larry Schweiger, he states that there isn’t any ‘Greenwashing’ occurring… while it may be true that NWF isn’t trying to Greenwash any of their own products… Scotts is absolutely using the NWF to Greenwash theirs!

Quote by Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn

“We are making a step change in fiscal 2012 and setting a new benchmark for our advertising investment,” Hagedorn told shareholders. “Both our Scotts and Miracle-Gro brands will be supported by completely new campaigns. While we will continue to support individual products in each commercial, we will do so with a consistent approach and message that creates a halo effect for the brands. I believe this is some of the best creative work we have done in years and I am confident it will impact our business – not just in 2012 – but over the longer-term as well.” 

What Hagedorn is referring to here is the ‘New’ partnership between Scotts and NWF. And, that through this new partnership, Scotts expects to ‘Greenwash’ their brand and products!

What is ‘Greenwashing’

greenwash |ˈgrēnˌwä sh; -ˌwô sh | (also green•wash•ing )


disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image : the recycling bins in the cafeteria are just feeble examples of their corporate greenwash.

The Scotts Greenwashing Campaign Begins!

January 23, 2012 – Scotts Miracle-Gro announces their Grant Program Helps Communities Create More Local Greenscapes campaign. Scotts Miracle-Gro is referring to this campaign as GRO1000 Grassroots Grant, a community outreach initiative that was launched in 2011. GRO1000 will result in the creation of [only] 1,000 community gardens and green spaces by 2018, for the Company’s 150th anniversary. The Scotts Grassroots Grants of up to $1,500 each are awarded to local communities to help bring edible gardens, flower gardens and public green spaces to even more neighborhoods in the United States.


How much money is Scotts projecting to earn from consumers per fiscal year? Oh yeah, over 20 million a year.

Their grants are for ONLY $1,500, and they’re ONLY giving out 1,000 of them over a FIVE year period!? And they’re not involved in any Greenwashing???

They are even including “Grassroots” as a buzzword in their marketing!!! A possible result of dumbing us down [I’m being sarcastic].

Upon closer inspection, these grants are only being given out to locations ‘near’ the Scotts corporate headquarters AND the recipients also need to be a 501(c)3! So, if you were thinking you could organize your community to get a grant you can kiss that idea bye-bye! This smells a LOT more like Greenwashing now, doesn’t it?

 OK, I’m appalled. This GRO1000 Grant campaign is highly insulting at best!

I highly support and encourage truly Green things, I always have and always will. But I am finding this partnership, Scotts products, and the Scott/Monsanto past to NOT be in alignment with the direction that we need to be taking to improve the quality of our environment. When I consider the entire line of Scotts products and their association with Monsanto… let’s just say, I’m extremely concerned about  our future and the health of our planet and its species. I cannot support a company that practices Greenwashing. And, I question the integrity of the NWF now; I think they’ve sold out, how sad and unfortunate.

I must admit that I’m not entirely surprised that something like this has occurred, Monsanto and all company’s who make toxic chemical products aren’t exactly the happenin’ thing these days. But I am surprised that the NWF agreed to this, it opens the door for Monsanto to continue with their work; their goal IS to genetically modify every food plant and animal so they can patent them and be the ONLY source available from which we consumers can buy from. In my opinion, Monsanto is the most sinister company the world has ever witnessed.

Creating a “Halo Effect” for the Scotts Products

Regardless of what the NWF is telling us, it is extremely clear that both parties in this new partnership expect to benefit financially. From here on out, it’s up to us to decide how we will respond to this and what actions we will take in considering our role in taking the next 7 Generations into account.

I honestly do not believe that the NWF is going to have that much weight on the choices of products Scotts Miracle-Gro produces. I also found it interesting that the NWF didn’t speak at all about the connection with Monsanto. Whether the NWF supports what Scotts Miracle-Gro or Monsanto does or doesn’t do isn’t the real issue, the real issue is that the NWF is allowing these company’s to Greenwash their poisons and pre-Greenwash any new products they come up with. It’s like they’ve just sold their soul to the devil.

Public Interest in Environment has Declined and Conservation Funds Slashed

The NWF and other conservation programs have already been disproportionately slashed. Congress has already slashed several key conservation programs by more than 30 percent, disproportionate compared to just a 7 percent overall cut in other non-defense discretionary spending. If the deficit committee fails to reach a deal and automatic cuts are triggered, already-weakened conservation programs will be decimated.

“Investments in conservation programs are a great bargain, accounting for just one percent of federal spending but delivering huge benefits to all Americans, protecting wildlife, investing in clean energy jobs, and reducing pollution that harms our children,” said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation. “More super-sized cuts to conservation programs already cut to the bone would have devastating effects on the more than 6 million jobs supported by outdoor recreation.”

According to the Interior Department, National parks and wildlife refuges attracted more than 414 million visitors in 2008, those visitations supported 316,000 jobs.

“The outdoor recreation industry contributes $730 billion to the economy and delivers $49 billion in tax revenue. Unfairly targeting conservation programs will put all that at risk,” said Gaspar Perricone, co-founder and co-director of the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Congress should heed the advice of President Theodore Roosevelt and treat America’s ‘natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.’”

Scotts Genetically Modified (GM) Grass Seed

In 2011, the USDA decided to not regulate genetically modified bluegrass grass seed. USDA secretary Tom Vilksack sent Scotts Miracle-Gro as an addendum to the agency’s response to Scott’s GM bluegrass petition. Vilsack’s letter, dated July 1, acknowledges concerns that GM bluegrass will contaminate non-GM bluegrass—that is, that the Roundup Ready gene will move through wind-blown pollen and work its way into non-modified varieties. This is the process known as “gene flow,” and it has already been well-established for GM corn and other modified crops.

We should assume that the partnering of Scotts and the NWF efforts in getting kids outdoors will involve them playing on GM grass in their own backyards! To allow Scotts to discuss this concern with their shareholders as a means of self-regulation is appalling at best!

Of even greater concern is the fact that Scotts GM bluegrass gene (in the pollen) is going to be drifting into non-GM grasses, like into farm fields where animals and livestock will be grazing! This is extremely unsettling news because already the current ‘Certified Organic’ regulations are pathetically insignificant. This also means that those who are raising their livestock, using ‘Beyond Organic’ standards are at extreme risk of their animals consuming a genetically modified grass. See my previous post on Beyond Organic: we are what the animal eats.

This bluegrass seed a home consumer yard grass seed which, of course, resists glyphosate (RoundUp), and its introduction into the marketplace (in 2012) would almost certainly result in millions of homeowners across America planting these seeds in their yard and then spraying RoundUp across their entire lawn as a “treatment” for eliminating weeds. We can only imagine the TV commercials and other advertisements we’ll be seeing for this product!

Remember: GMO Kentucky bluegrass will cross-pollinate with other grasses in the wild, leading to widespread GMO contamination of lawns across the country, and world if this product goes international!

The USDA can’t do anything about this… they can’t do, or they aren’t willing to do anything about it???

Apparently the deregulation of GM alfalfa set the stage for other GM crops to also go unregulated. In a Mother Jones article July 14, 2010 author Tom Philpott writes;

…Take the case of the Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa. The agency deregulated it in 2005 without an impact statement, but because its “regulatory hooks” had caught the crop in the first place, the watchdog group Center for Food Safety was able to sue the agency for violating NEPA. A federal judge ruled that the release of GM alfalfa be delayed pending an impact statement.

In December 2010, the USDA finally got around to releasing it. The agency’s vast environmental impact statement for GMO alfalfa (PDF)—so sprawling I had to download a new version of Adobe Reader to read it—was blunt on two points: 1) “gene flow” between GM and non-GM alfalfa is “probable,” and threatens organic dairy producers and other users of non-GMO alfala; and 2) there is strong potential for the creation of Roundup-resistant “superweeds” that require ever-higher doses of Roundup and application of ever-more toxic herbicides. The report noted that 2 million acres of US farmland already harbor Roundup-resistant weeds caused by other Roundup Ready crops.

The analysis was so stark that soon after the report’s release, Vilsack felt moved to explain it. He issued an “open letter to stakeholders” that acknowledged the “the potential of cross-fertilization to non-GE alfalfa from GE alfalfa—a significant concern for farmers who produce for non-GE markets at home and abroad.” And he signaled that the agency was moving toward a “new paradigm based on coexistence and cooperation” between GM and non-GM players.

The remarks were significant, because no USDA chief had ever acknowledged that the novel technology could do real damage to organic agriculture.

…A recent Food & Water Watch report documented the gusher of cash the biotech industry spends on D.C. lobbying. The industry spent more than a half billion dollars on lobbying between 1999 and 2009, FWW reports. In 2009 alone, the GMO giants dropped a cool $71 million pushing its agenda. It’s also worth noting the number of Monsanto-related people who have worked in key policy ag-policy postions in Obama’s adminstration. (more)

This is the company (Scotts Miracle-Gro) that the NWF is now in partnership with! Should we be even more concerned now, or not?

Scotts Miracle-Gro Fined $4.5 Million for Toxic Bird Seed and Falsifying Records

January 27, 2012 – On the same week Scotts Miracle Gro tried to buy an image upgrade by sponsoring the National Wildlife Federation, word has come out of a federal court that the company will pay millions of dollars in fines for selling bird seed it knew was tainted with pesticides toxic to birds.

The tainted bird seed was coated with insecticides called Storcide II and Actellic 5E. This was done to keep insects from eating the seeds during storage.

Storcide’s label says the pesticide is “extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife.” Documents state that Scotts continued to sell the products despite warnings in the summer and fall of 2007 from a pesticide chemist and an ornithologist, both of whom worked for the company.

Again in 2008, Federal EPA officials discovered that Scotts was selling lawn and garden products with falsified pesticide registrations, for two years around 2006. Court documents list a Scotts lawn service fertilizer, a garden “weed preventer and plant food” and another product called Southern Max Fire Ant Killer. Court records state that the manager “intentionally misled EPA by assuring EPA officials that the products were registered, suggesting EPA had lost its files.”

Part of the fine, $500,000, will be evenly split among five groups and agencies to fund efforts to protect birds. They are Audubon Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Program, Columbus Metro Parks, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Ohio Nature Conservancy.

Although Scotts had no comment, it pleaded guilty to charges that they sold 73 million units of poisoned bird seed between 2005-2008. According to an article in The Columbus Dispatch, newspaper, the company continued to sell the bird seed “despite warnings in the summer and fall of 2007 from a pesticide chemist and an ornithologist, both of whom worked for the company.”

The partnering with NWF, and the commotion it has caused, was clearly designed to draw attention away from what is believed to be the largest fine ever on a pesticide company!

NWF Supporter Responses

Many longtime supporters of the NWF and their Backyard Wildlife Certification project are mailing back their NWF signs with messages to the NWF for this partnership. Supporter Rand Jordan and Sue Leonard have the same response as many other NWF supporters…

“It is whitewashing at the highest, most obvious level,” said Rand Jordan. “I’ve yanked my NWF habitat sign out of my backyard. I’ll never, ever support them again.”

“I’m sickened. Just sickened about the whole thing,” said Sue Leonard of Fort Worth, Texas.

How To Contact NWF and Scotts to Show You Care

Scotts Miracle-Gro

1-888-270-3714 Let them know you are strongly opposed to their pursuit of GMO Kentucky bluegrass, their partnership with the NWF, RoundUp, etc. and that you will stop buying all Scotts / Miracle-Gro products from here forward unless Scotts announces it will back away from GMOs.

Snailmail Scotts at: Scotts Help Center, 14111 Scottslawn Rd., Marysville, OH 43041

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

1-800-822-9919 Let them know you’re not pleased with this partnership and why!

Snailmail NWF: 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston, VA 20190email:


Certify Your Wildlife Habitat Without the National Wildlife Federation

The website has listed three other places where you can go to get your backyard certified as being a backyard wildlife refuge. They suggest, if you want to replace your Certified Wildlife Habitat sign there are other organizations who also certify your garden:

The North America Butterfly Association Butterfly Garden and Habitat Certification ProgramThey have an exhaustive resource area for butterfly gardeners, including garden ideas, host plant lists, suggested plants, and regional gardening guides.

To join NABA Butterfly Garden Certification Program, you need to create or modify your existing garden to meet the following requirements:

  • At least three different native caterpillar food plants must be grown, preferably more than one plant of each selected species
  • At least three different native butterfly nectar sources must be grown, preferably more than one plant of each selected species
  • The use of pesticides is discouraged. Pesticides can kill butterflies as well as other important pollinators.

Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening certification is similar to that of the National Wildlife Federation. They also have an extensive website to help backyard wildlife enthusiasts make their property wildlife friendly and meet the requirements for certification.

Monarch Watch Waystation Program is a great way to create stopover spots for Monarch butterflies during their amazing migration and for breeding new generations. They too have certification.

I would like to add to their list that if you really want to take matters into your own hands and get more involved, check out Wind Star Wildlife Institute. WindStar’s Wildlife Habitat Naturalist Internet e-Learning Course will help you learn how to better manage wildlife on your property, plus develop a sense of stewardship toward wildlife and a land conservation ethic. these courses are good for: birders, educators, home schoolers, nature center staff, scout leaders, landscape architects, etc.


Columbus Business First

Congressional Panel Can Cut Deficit, Protect Wildlife

Mother Jones – Welcome to the Age of GMO Industry Regulation

The Columbus Dispatch – Scotts to Pay $4.5 Million in Fines

Safe Lawns Blog

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