By Barry Eitel
SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday that it would fine Amazon $1.2 million for allowing third-party businesses to sell illegal pesticides on its platform.
The EPA said that Amazon committed almost 4,000 violations of laws prohibiting the sale of certain pesticides in the U.S. Amazon noted that companies were able to sell the pesticides through its website. Many of those pesticides were intentionally mislabeled and imported from other countries.
Amazon agreed to remove any illegal pesticides available for sale on its website and promised to monitor sellers more rigorously.
“This agreement will dramatically reduce the online sale of illegal pesticides, which pose serious threats to public health in communities across America,” Chris Hladick, an EPA administrator, said in a statement.
“Amazon is committed to closely monitoring and removing illegal pesticides from its website, and the EPA will continue to work hard to ensure these harmful products never reach the marketplace.”
Federal authorities began investigating Amazon in 2014 for violating the Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide, and Fungicide Act that bans certain pesticides. The EPA said that many of the banned pesticides involved in the investigation are common in Asia. Some of the products were given non-specific names like “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk” and “Green Leaf Powder Fly Killing Bait.”
The investigation included the EPA purchasing the barred pesticides from Amazon and inspecting an Amazon facility in Kentucky.
The company agreed to reach out to customers who bought the illegal pesticides between 2013 and 2016. Amazon refunded the customers their money, a total of $130,000, and urged customers to destroy the products.
“Regulatory compliance is a top priority at Amazon,” the company said in a statement. “Third-party sellers are required to comply with all relevant laws and regulations when listing items for sale on Amazon. When sellers don’t comply with our terms, we work quickly to take action on behalf of customers.”