Originally posted June 25, 2020
To gardeners everywhere,
In today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, it is proper for consumers to expect more from companies than you have in the past. You should expect transparency. You should expect honesty. You should expect leadership. The companies that deliver on these expectations are rewarded with a priceless gift: Trust.
At ScottsMiracle-Gro, we are proud to have earned the trust of generations of consumers. It’s not something we take for granted. In fact, on the wall of my office hangs the notes from the retirement speech given by my father, Horace, who founded Miracle-Gro in 1951. In it, he said Miracle-Gro had become one of the world’s most beloved brands because it was considered a “trusted friend” by gardeners everywhere.
Indeed, trust is the cornerstone of our business.
Many of you know that our company serves as the marketing agent for Roundup, a non-selective weed control product owned by the German company, Bayer. This means we represent the product to retailers and distribute it to them for sale to consumers. We have served as its marketing agent since 1998. You may also know that Bayer recently agreed to pay $10 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits filed by users of Roundup who claim the product and its active ingredient, glyphosate, caused their cancer.
While Bayer has agreed to settle these cases, they stand by the safety of their product. We agree with that assessment. Our view is informed by the weight of the scientific evidence and regulatory decisions around the world that speak to the safety of Roundup. However, because this is such an important question, we have also had toxicologists from outside of our company examine this question. They reached the same conclusion. To be blunt, if we didn’t believe Roundup was safe, we would not represent the product in the marketplace for Bayer or anyone else.
Our role as the marketing agent for Roundup does not free us from our leadership obligation to offer choice and information to our consumers. We know, for example, that some consumers prefer a weed control product that does not contain glyphosate. That’s why, in 2019, we changed the formulation of our Ortho GroundClear products – which we do own – and removed glyphosate. We also know that consumers want to make their own informed decisions. That’s why we continue to provide access on our website to the unedited report that asserts glyphosate is carcinogenic, even though we disagree with the report’s conclusion based on the weight of the scientific assessments.
Trust is a two-way street. We believe our consumers trust us and we, in turn, trust them. That’s why we’re not afraid to provide a list of active ingredients on our website. Why we’re are not afraid to reach out to our critics. Why we’re not afraid to make changes to our products when we deem it necessary. And why we’re not afraid to take a stance on the issues that define our time.
We trust our consumers will judge us by our actions, and we appreciate their understanding when we admit to our mistakes.
I’m not sure who will lead our company a generation from now. But I do know I will share with that person the notes that my father gave to me. And decades from now, I am confident The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company will continue to be defined by two simple words: “Trusted friend.”