Bee-ware: Many Top Grocers Receive An “F” For Protecting Bees

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A new Friends of the Earth report grades the top 20 food retailers in the U.S on policies and practices regarding food they sell grown with bee-killing pesticides, including neonicotinoids, implicated in recent massive declines of bees and other pollinators.

17 stores received an “F” for failing to have a publicly available policy to reduce or eliminate pesticide use to protect pollinators. Only Aldi, Costco and Whole Foods received passing grades in this category.

“U.S. food retailers must take responsibility for how the products they sell are contributing to the bee crisis,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, with Friends of the Earth. “Most food sold at top U.S. food retailers is produced with pollinator-toxic pesticides. We urge all major retailers to work with their suppliers to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides and to expand domestic organic offerings that protect pollinators, people and the planet.”

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Today’s report, Swarming the Aisles: Rating top retailers on bee-friendly and organic food, comes amid mounting consumer pressure on food retailers to adopt more environmentally-friendly sourcing policies. A coalition led by Friends of the Earth and more than 50 farmer, beekeeper, farmworker, environmental and public interest organizations sent a letter urging food retailers to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides and increase USDA certified organic food and beverages to 15 percent of overall offerings by 2025, prioritizing domestic, regional and local producers. This effort follows a campaign by Friends of the Earth and allies that convinced more than 65 garden retailers, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, to commit to eliminate bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides.

New data from a YouGov Poll released today by Friends of the Earth and SumOfUs found that 80 percent of Americans believe it is important to eliminate neonicotinoids from agriculture. Among Americans who grocery shop for their household, 65 percent would be more likely to shop at a grocery store that has formally committed to eliminating neonicotinoids.

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“Over 750,000 SumOfUs members have spoken out advocating that U.S. Hardware stores take action to protect our pollinators. And after years of pressure, Home Depot and Lowe’s have finally enacted more bee-friendly policies,” said Angus Wong with SumOfUs. “And the findings of this poll show that a vast majority of consumers want to eliminate neonicotinoids from their grocery stores too. This is why food retailers must commit to policies that protect our bees immediately.”

The report found that consumer demand for organic food continues to show double-digit growth.

“Organic farms support 50 percent more pollinator species than conventional farms. This is a huge opportunity for American farmers. Less than one percent of U.S. farmland is in organic production — farmers need the support of food retailers to help them transition dramatically more acreage to organic,” said Dr. Kendra Klein, staff scientist, Friends of the Earth.

The report and more info: www.foe.org/beeaction.