Amazon Will Pay $2.5 Million Over Illegal Sales of Regulated Pesticides
Marisa Lloyd

Amazon Will Pay $2.5 Million Over Illegal Sales of Regulated Pesticides

Washington AG

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today Seattle-based online retailer 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.

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 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 today 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. The consent decree is pending final approval by the court.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection and Environmental Protection divisions conducted the investigation.

“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.”

Some regulated agricultural and industrial-use pesticides may contain active ingredients that could pose a risk to people or the environment, which is why regulation of these products is important. Depending on the pesticide, they could cause anything from skin irritation to breathing issues to neurological damage if the application or handling is done incorrectly. Improper use of others could harm food sources important to juvenile salmon or impact threatened and endangered species, including Chinook salmon and orcas. Others can damage sensitive crops if not used properly. Amazon made thousands of sales of regulated agricultural and industrial-use pesticides between 2013 and 2020.

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.

Washingtonians who believe they may have unintentionally purchased these regulated pesticides from the online retailer should contact Amazon.

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