California is cracking down on illegal online pesticide sales in the state.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and Amazon.com Services reached a settlement agreement for multiple violations, including selling unregistered pesticides in California, not reporting and paying required mill assessment fees associated with the sale of registered pesticides in California, and not holding a valid pesticide broker’s license.
“The settlement agreement demonstrates the DPR’s ongoing commitment to regulating the sale and use of pest control products in California and to safeguard against illegal, unregistered or counterfeit pesticides entering the marketplace,” says Dr. Jim Fredericks, BCE, the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) VP of technical and regulatory affairs and Pest Management Professional’s “Callback Cures” columnist. “The NPMA is supportive of efforts to ensure that the rules and regulations regarding pesticide sales and use are applied in a fair and uniform manner across the board.”
Under the terms of the agreement announced Nov. 3, Amazon will pay the DPR $4.97 million. That breaks down into $3.69 million in unpaid pesticide sales assessment fees and related late penalties, and $1.28 million in civil penalties associated with retail sales of unregistered pesticides into California.
In addition to agreeing to the settlement, Amazon also will register as a pesticide broker, and report and pay the mill assessment fees associated with all future retail sales of registered pesticides in the state, according to the DPR.
In California, the law stipulates pesticides must be registered with the DPR before they are used, possessed or sold in California. In addition, the state requires payment of a mill assessment — a fee that is paid when these registered pesticides are sold into California. The DPR says the revenue from mill assessments helps fund programs for worker safety training, environmental monitoring and enforcement, and the ability to track pesticides sold into California.
The DPR is tasked with evaluating and registering pesticides, and monitoring and regulating their sale and use across California. The DPR maintains the sale of unregistered pesticides is illegal, and poses risks to human health and the environment.
“It is critical that those selling pesticides in California, especially companies with Amazon’s resources, reach and influence, comply with pesticide laws that protect the health of all Californians and our environment,” says DPR Director Julie Henderson. “DPR’s action should send a message to all pesticide sellers, including online sellers, that California will take action to protect the health and safety of its people and environment.”
This is not the first time Amazon has come under fire for selling pesticides online. In 2018, Amazon agreed to pay more than $1.2 million in penalties to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to settle allegations it violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) nearly 4,000 times over the course of five years. In that case, Amazon allegedly allowed third parties to sell and distribute, from Amazon warehouses, imported pesticides even though the products were not licensed for sale in the United States.