Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute released their latest report, Gardeners Beware, a new study that reveals the existence of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in plants sold at major retailers. The plants tested are considered “bee-friendly” for home gardens, and the levels of pesticides detected have the potential to harm or even kill bees. The study found a significant decrease in plants tested that contain neonicotinoids — from 51 percent in 2014 to 23 percent in 2016.
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Home Depot and Lowe’s have made commitments to phase-out use of these pesticides on their plants. The new data demonstrates these companies are making significant progress toward that goal. Ace Hardware, True Value and Walmart have not yet made similar commitments to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides.
On Tuesday, an 18-year peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Nature that confirms the links between neonicotinoids and the disappearance of bees. Beekeepers have been losing up to 41 percent of their hives annually in recent years. A strong body of science indicates neonicotinoids contribute to impaired reproduction, learning and memory, hive communications and immune response at low dose exposures.
“No one wants to buy ‘bee-friendly’ plants for their gardens that will actually contribute to the death of bees and other pollinators. We are calling on all retailers, especially Ace Hardware and True Value, to immediately adopt formal policies to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes with Friends of the Earth.
“Retailers should work with their suppliers to speed up their phase out of bee-harming pesticides,” said Susan Kegley, Ph.D. with the Pesticide Research Institute and lead researcher of the study. “While our data indicates that fewer nurseries and garden stores are selling plants pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides, consumers just can’t know for sure if the plants contain the chemicals.”
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A new poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth and SumofUs found that nearly 70 percent of U.S. consumers feel more positively about Home Depot and Lowe’s after learning about the stores’ formal commitments to eliminate neonicotinoids. 39 percent said they’d feel more negatively towards a retailer that hadn’t committed to eliminating these insecticides. More than 75 businesses, cities, universities, states and countries worldwide restrict the use of neonicotinoids.Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey found 74 percent of growers that supply mass merchants and home improvement chains said they will not use neonicotinoid insecticides in 2016.
Ace Hardware and True Value affiliates in Maine, Oregon, Washington and other states have adopted policies to eliminate neonicotinoids, but the parent companies have yet to adopt similar policies for all stores nationwide.