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Post date: February 11 1999

Firms Fined For Illegal Pesticide Sales

New York State Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner John P. Cahill today announced fines of more than $400,000 through a settlement with five companies which illegally sold pesticides to New Yorkers over the Internet and through mail order services. The companies will immediately pay a total of $200,300. The remaining balance is suspended on condition of their compliance with the settlement terms.

An investigation conducted jointly by the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau and Internet Computer Bureau, found that Apex Pest Control Services, Inc., American Master Products, Inc., Farnam Companies, Inc., Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Company, and Stokes Seeds, Inc., illegally offered for sale, via the Internet or through mail-order catalogues, pesticides which were either not registered for use in New York State or were registered for sale only to certified pesticide applicators. Four of these companies were also cited for making deceptive claims about the potential health and environmental impacts associated with the use of pesticide products.

Spitzer warned that the use of pesticides always involves some risk to human health or the environment. To help protect New Yorkers, the state requires that all pesticides undergo a specific registration process prior to sale or use in New York. "By ignoring the State’s registration requirements, these companies have endangered the health and welfare of New Yorkers. We will not tolerate such disregard for our regulations, which protect consumers. These settlements send a clear message to those who attempt to circumvent our laws: We will find you. We will aggressively investigate and prosecute you on behalf of New York consumers," Spitzer said.

While none of the companies have admitted wrongdoing, under the terms of the settlement -- in addition to paying civil penalties -- each company agrees:

  • to refrain from further sales of pesticides which are not registered in New York, and any restricted use pesticide unless the buyer is a certified applicator,
  • to modify their Web sites and catalogues to identify those products which are unregistered in New York State,
    to cease making deceptive health and environmental claims about pesticides and to abide by restrictions set forth in the settlement to avoid future deceptive claims, and
  • to contact New York consumers and request they return the unregistered products for a full refund.

DEC Commissioner Cahill said: "Companies offering to sell pesticides in New York State by whatever means -- over the Internet, by mail-order catalog, over the telephone or through retailers -- should take notice of this settlement: they must comply with the State’s pesticide registration laws and regulations. DEC will continue to enforce the product registration requirements in conjunction with the Attorney General."
The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Christopher Amato and Philip Bein, and Chief Scientist Michael Surgan of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, Assistant Attorney General Christy Limauro of the Internet Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Jane Azia of the Consumer Frauds Bureau.