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Saving bees: Home Depot, BJ’s Wholesale Club take action on on bee-killing pesticides

Posted Jun. 26, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

New study shows half of “bee-friendly” plants tested contain neonicotinoids

Washington, D.C. – On the heels of a study released yesterday by Friends of the Earth and allies that found bee-killing pesticides in “bee-friendly” home garden plants, Home Depot (NYSE: HD), BJ’s Wholesale Club (BJ:US) and other retailers have begun in taking steps to address the problem.

Home Depot  announced it will require its suppliers to label all plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been shown to harm and kill bees, by the fourth quarter of 2014. The world’s largest home improvement retailer is also working with its suppliers to “find alternative insecticides for protecting live goods and bees.”

More than a half million Americans have signed petitions demanding Lowe’s and Home Depot stop selling neonicotinoids. In the face of mounting evidence and growing consumer demand, nearly a dozen nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers are taking steps to eliminate bee harming pesticides from their garden plants and their stores. BJ's Wholesale Club, a retailer with more than 200 locations in 15 states, announced yesterday it will require vendors to remove neonicotinoids from plants by the end of 2014 and/or require warning labels for neonicotinoid-treated plants.

“We’re pleased these retailers are working to be part of the solution to the bee crisis. Bees are crucial for our food system, and we must do everything in our power to protect them,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Food & Technology program at Friends of the Earth. “We will work with Home Depot and other retailers to get neonicotinoid pesticides out of their plants and off their shelves as soon as possible.”

The study released yesterday, Gardeners Beware 2014, shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) stores in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid pesticides -- a key contributor to recent bee declines. In this study, all of the nursery plant samples where neonics were detected have the potential to harm or even kill bees.

The report follows President Obama’s announcement last week of a federal strategy to protect pollinators that called on EPA to assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators. Earlier this week, the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides study confirmed neonicotinoids are a leading driver of bee declines, and are harming beneficial organisms essential to functional ecosystems and food production, including soil microbes, butterflies, earthworms, reptiles, and birds. The Task Force called for immediate regulatory action to restrict neonicotinoids.

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Expert Contact: Lisa Archer, (510) 978-3145, larcher@foe.org
Communications Contacts: EA Dyson, 202-222-0730, edyson@foe.org; Kate Colwell, 202-222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

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