Garden retailers to take bee-killing pesticides off store shelves!

News release – May 3, 2017

Garden retailers nearly unanimous in rejecting bee-killing pesticides 

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Beyond Toxics, Friends of the Earth, and other allies are announcing a major advancement in their fight to protect essential pollinator populations. Walmart and True Value have decided to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides, a leading driver of global bee declines, from company garden retail supply chains. This follows an ongoing campaign urging garden retailers, including True Value and Walmart, to stop selling plants treated with neonicotinoids and remove products containing them from store shelves.

Beyond Toxics participated in gathering samples for both Gardeners Beware reports.

Beyond Toxics participated in gathering samples for both the initial 2014 study and last year’s study. The initial study, Gardeners Beware 2014, showed that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides — a key contributor to recent bee declines. Some samples contained very high neonic levels in the flowers. Those levels raised alarm bells that the pollen and nectar from the flowers could severely harm or even kill bees.

It is a great day for bees when retailers, relying on science, commit to end the sale of bee-killing pesticides,” said Lisa Arkin, Executive Director of Beyond Toxics. “Beyond Toxics and our allies will continue to protect pollinators and aquatic systems by eliminating these bio-persistent chemicals. This is necessary to ensure food security.”

Beyond Toxics introduced the Oregon Pollinator Protection Act in the 2017 legislature to end the sale of bee-killing pesticides in all retail outlets. Lobbyists for chemical companies lobbied against the bill with fake claims that try to divert attention from the extreme threat posed by neonicotinoid pesticides. “Science and consumer demand are in our favor,” said Arkin. “While we support the stores that have taken neonicotinoid pesticides off their shelves, Beyond Toxics will be pursuing policy solutions as soon as possible.”

Walmart and True Value join more than 110 retailers across the country, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, that have made firm commitments to eliminate neonicotinoids. To date, Ace Hardware is the only leading garden retailer that has not made a strong commitment to eliminate neonicotinoids on both plants and off-the-shelf products.

The humble bumblebee. Photo by Cole Keister

A study released by Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute in August 2016 revealed bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at major retailers. The latest commitments from True Value, Walmart and Costco show that the industry has moved even further to eliminate these pesticides since the release of the report.

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Organizations that have partnered with Friends of the Earth U.S. in the campaign to urge garden retailers phase out the use and sale of neonicotinoids include: American Bird Conservancy, Atlanta Audubon Society, Beyond Pesticides, Beyond Toxics, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, CREDO Action,  Ecology Center, Endangered Species Coalition, Environment New York, Environment Texas, Environmental Youth Council, Farmworker Association of Florida, Friends of the Earth Canada, Georgia Organics, GMO Inside, Green America, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Pesticide Network, Mercola.com, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Olympia Beekeepers Association, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network North America, Planet Rehab, Save our Environment, Sierra Club, Smart on Pesticides Maryland, SumOfUs, Toxics Action Center, Toxic Free North Carolina, Turner Environmental Law Clinic and The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Contact: Lisa Arkin, Exec. Director, Beyond Toxics, (541) 465-8860, larkin@beyondtoxics.org | Tiffany Finck-Haynes, (202) 222-0715, tfinckhaynes@foe.org