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Thousands of consumers show love for bees on Valentine’s Day, demand Ace Hardware and True Value stop selling bee-killing pesticides

Posted Feb. 14, 2017 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

5,000+ people across the country deliver valentines to retailers urging them to “show bees some love”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This Valentine’s week, over 5,000 people coast-to-coast are swarming Ace Hardware and True Value stores to support the bees that pollinate flowers, strawberries and many other Valentine’s Day essentials. Friends of the Earth and allies are delivering valentines asking these retailers to “show bees some love” by committing to take pesticides shown to harm and kill bees -- and garden plants treated with these pesticides -- off their shelves. Larger valentine deliveries are also planned at stores in Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, California; and Durham, North Carolina.

Populations of bees and other pollinators, essential for the two-thirds of the food crops we eat, are in rapid decline worldwide. Last year, U.S. beekeepers reported losing an average of over 44 percent of their hives -- close to the highest annual loss in the past six years. These losses are considered too high to be sustainable for U.S. agriculture and the beekeeping industry. A large and growing body of science has attributed alarming bee declines to several key factors, including exposure to the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, neonicotinoids. 

A study released by Friends of the Earth last summer exposed bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) in “bee-friendly” garden plants sold at major retailers with no warning to consumers. Thanks, in large part, to a strong consumer movement over the past three years urging retailers to phase out the use of neonics, the study found a significant decrease in the number of plants that tested positive for  neonicotinoids relative to findings from 2013 and 2014 studies.

Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) and Costco (NYSE: COST) have taken steps to remove these pesticides in their nursery plants and on their store shelves. Ace Hardware, True Value and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) have not yet made similar commitments to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from the plants they sell.

“Ace Hardware and True Value need to show bees some love and stop poisoning them with bee-killing pesticides. We’re calling on these stores to help solve the bee crisis by immediately adopting a formal public policy to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from their plants and products,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S.

A poll conducted 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 would feel more negatively towards a retailer that hadn’t committed to eliminating these insecticides.

In response to revelations that garden products in their stores contain neonicotinoids, True Value has said it is looking to phase out neonicotinoid products by spring 2018 and Ace Hardware has said it is willing to eliminate neonicotinoid products by Spring 2019, but the parent companies have yet to address eliminating neonicotinoids on the garden plants they sell nationwide.

Ace Hardware and True Value affiliates in Maine, Oregon, Washington and other states have adopted policies to eliminate neonicotinoids.

More than half a million Americans have signed petitions demanding that Ace Hardware and True Value immediately stop selling off-the-shelf neonicotinoid insecticides for home garden use and plants pre-treated with these pesticides. More than 33,000 Americans have vowed to take their business elsewhere until the retailers follow other industry leaders and make public commitments to stop selling bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. Thousands of customers are making calls and showing up in person at these retailers urging the stores to make these changes.

“Ace and True Value have no excuse. In 2016, 74 percent of growers that supply garden retailers with nursery plants said they would not use bee-killing neonics,” said Finck-Haynes. “It’s time for Ace and True Value to come to the table and make a serious commitment to work with all of their stores to stop selling garden plants that are killing bees before the spring planting season begins.”

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Expert contact: Tiffany Finck-Haynes, (202) 222-0715, tfinckhaynes@foe.org
Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

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