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AG Ferguson: Amazon will pay $2.5 million over illegal sales of regulated pesticides

Christian Fernsby |
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Amazon will pay $2.5 million for selling highly regulated pesticides on its online platform without a license and without collecting information about their use as required by law.

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Washington law regulates the sale of agricultural and industrial use pesticides because they pose higher risks to human health and the environment. Businesses that sell these pesticides are required by law to hold specific licenses and maintain records about their sales and use.

Amazon failed to inform Washingtonians on the product pages, checkout pages or anywhere else that these regulated agricultural and industrial use pesticides were different from regular home and garden products. Amazon’s conduct created the impression that anyone could lawfully buy and use the pesticides without restriction.

In addition to paying $2.5 million, Amazon is required to obtain a license in the future if it restarts sales of these regulated pesticides. The consent decree, filed on November 22, in King County Superior Court, requires Amazon to enact specific and legally enforceable corporate reforms, including putting safeguards in place on its site to block illegal sales of these pesticides.

It must not allow third party sellers on its site to sell these dangerous pesticides to customers in Washington unless it provides a way for those sellers to comply with Washington’s record keeping requirements.

“Amazon is a powerful corporation — but it’s not above the law,” Ferguson said. “I will continue to serve as an independent watchdog to protect consumers and our environment, and ensure this major Washington company complies with the law.”

The regulated pesticides Amazon sold are not available at regular home and garden stores. Sellers must be specifically licensed to sell them, and state law requires sellers to record specific information at the time of sale. For more dangerous Restricted Use Pesticides, the buyer must also be licensed as an applicator, and more detailed recordkeeping is required at the time of purchase, including verifying the buyer’s license, and what the pesticide will be used for and where.

Restricted Use Pesticides include insecticides or fungicides used in production farming that can severely contaminate groundwater or nearby streams if used improperly.

Amazon sold these regulated pesticides on its site without a license, and without verifying the licenses of Restricted Use Pesticide purchasers, or collecting other legally required information, like the intended use of the pesticide. Because of Amazon’s actions, there is no record of how or where the dangerous pesticides were used.

As a result of Ferguson’s investigation, Amazon suspended all sales of these pesticides on its site.

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