(Beyond Pesticides, May 5, 2017) Walmart and True Value have announced that beginning on Wednesday they will be phasing out neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides from all retail supply chains. These announcements follow numerous scientific studies that have consistently implicated neonics in the decline of honey bees and other wild pollinators. The decision stems from an ongoing consumer and environmental campaigns urging retailers to stop selling plants treated with neonics and to remove products containing them from store shelves.
Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, or whole plant poisons, taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed in the pollen, nectar, and dew drops. They are also highly persistent, with research showing the potential for certain chemicals in the class, such as clothianidin, to have a half-life of up to 15 years. Studies show significant cause for concern when it comes to pollinators and exposure to these pesticides. Although little substantive action on these chemicals has been taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency agreed that the pesticides do harm bees, though only in the limited situations and constrained scenarios that were actually investigated by EPA.
The European Commission (EC) has proposed a complete ban of agricultural uses of the widely used bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides across Europe under draft regulations. The EC cites neonicotinoids’ “high acute risks to bees.” In 2013, three neonicotinoids were temporarily banned because of concerns about their high toxicity to bees. A vote by member states can happen as early as May 2017. The Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, in 2016, announced its proposal to phase out imidacloprid because, “Based on currently available information, the continued high volume use of imidacloprid in agricultural areas is not sustainable.” Uses proposed for phase out: trees (except when applied as a tree trunk injection), greenhouse uses, outdoor agricultural uses (including ornamentals), commercial seed treatment uses, and turf (such as lawns, golf courses, and sod farms).
According to a Friends of the Earth press release, “Walmart confirmed that its growers have eliminated neonics from approximately 80 percent of its garden plants. Walmart has also eliminated neonicotinoids in almost all its off-the-shelf gardening products.” The press release also pointed to a True Value announcement that stated they would no longer carry products containing neonicotinoids by the spring of 2018. These two companies join a variety of others in their pledge to do more to protect pollinators.
In April 2015, Lowe’s announced a commitment to phase out products containing neonics within 48 months. Home Depot followed shortly after that. In January 2016, Aldi Süd, the German supermarket chain with stores in the U.S., became the first major European retailer to ban pesticides toxic to bees. In April 2016, major pesticide manufacturer Scotts Miracle Gro announced that it will immediately being phasing out neonicotinoid insecticides, including imidacloprid, clothianidin, and dinotefuran from its outdoor-use Ortho brand by this year. Smaller, more local stores are leading the charge as well, by removing bee-toxic neonicotinoids from store shelves and working to reorient customers toward natural, holistic practices – over 18 retailers in the Boulder, Colorado area have signed a “pollinator safe retail” pledge!
Eliminating the sale of harmful pesticides does not mean that retailers will have nothing left to sell their customers. Last year, Beyond Pesticides released The Well Stocked Hardware Store, an online toolkit that identifies organic compatible products for hardware stores seeking to find replacement products that can be used with an organic system approach to land management. Beyond Pesticides highlights the actions of Eldredge Lumber, a hardware store in Maine, through the video Making the Switch. “You’re protecting the envirronment, your family, your children and grandchildren, and your neighbors. Nobody wants to have pesticides drifting into their front or rear yard, and people are just loving it, they’re feeding into it. I couldn’t be happier,” says owner Scott Eldredge in the video.
Beyond Pesticides encourages concerned residents to share these materials and encourage your own local hardware store to follow suit. If they already are, let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For customers not near a forward-thinking hardware store or nursery, see the comprehensive directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants. Included in this directory are organic seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as live plants and seedlings.
Source: Friends of the Earth
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.