Economics for the Earth Blog

More than a half million people demand Home Depot and Lowe’s stop selling bee-killing pesticides

Posted Feb. 10, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

Thousands participate in bee swarm actions across the country in the week of Valentine's Day

WASHINGTON, D.C.—This week, over 27,000 people coast-to-coast are swarming Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD) stores to support the bees that pollinate our flowers for Valentine’s Day. In a coalition effort called the Bee Week of Action, Friends of the Earth and allies are delivering more than half a million petition signatures and Valentines asking these retailers to “show bees some love” by taking pesticides shown to harm and kill bees -- and garden plants treated with these pesticides -- off their shelves.

Friends of the Earth U.S. is partnering with Beelieve, Beyond Pesticides, Beyond Toxics, Center for Food Safety, CREDO Mobilize, Friends of the Earth Canada, Northwest Center for Pesticide Alternatives, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network, SumOfUs and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to turn out activists across the country, including larger actions in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Boston area, and Eugene, Ore.

This national week of action is a part of the “BeeAction.org” campaign that is calling on retailers to stop selling neonicotinoids -- the most widely used class of pesticides in the world -- due to a growing body of science indicating that the pesticides are a key factor in recent global bee deaths.

Bees and other pollinators, essential for the two-thirds of the food crops humans eat everyday, are dwindling worldwide. Last year, U.S. beekeepers reported losing 40-100 percent of their hives, and they are likely facing another winter of historic bee die-offs.
A groundbreaking pilot study released last summer found that many bee-friendly garden plants sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s contained neonicotinoid pesticides with no warning to consumers.

“Home Depot and Lowe’s 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 removing neonicotinoid pesticides and home garden plants that are treated with these harmful chemicals from their shelves,” said Lisa Archer, director of the food and technology program at Friends of the Earth U.S.

The European Union’s two-year ban on the most widely used neonics went into effect in December. In January, the European Food Safety Authority cited evidence that two neonicotinoids, acetamiprid and imadacloprid, “may affect the developing human nervous system” of children, and they recommended further restricting their use. The UK’s top garden retailers, including Homebase, B&Q and Wickes, have voluntarily stopped selling neonicotinoids.

More than half a million Americans have signed petitions demanding that Lowe’s and Home Depot immediately stop selling off-the-shelf neonicotinoid insecticides for home garden use. Friends of the Earth and allies have also asked Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop selling plants pre-treated with the pesticides, make third-party certified organic starts and plants available, and educate customers on their policies to protect bees and other pollinators.

“We must take immediate action to address the bee crisis. Europe has banned bee-harming pesticides, retailers in the UK are refusing to sell them, and it’s time for Home Depot and Lowe’s to come to the table and make a serious commitment to stop selling products that are killing bees before the spring planting season begins,” said Archer. “In the meantime, gardeners should start their plants from untreated seeds or choose organic plants for their gardens.”

In response to revelations that home garden plants sold in their stores contain neonicotinoids, Home Depot said they would look into the matter and be in touch with environmental groups. They have yet to respond to requests for a meeting. Lowe’s has not made any public statements or responded to meeting requests.

The EPA has delayed action on neonicotinoid pesticides until 2018, despite growing evidence that neonics are a key factor in bee declines, and more than a million public comments urging swift protection for bees. In 2013, U.S. Representatives John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the “Saving American’s Pollinators Act,” which seeks to suspend the use of neonics on bee-attractive plants until EPA reviews all of the available data, including field studies.

*The Report Gardeners Beware: Bee-Killing Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Centers Nationwide; tips for consumers on protecting bees in their gardens; and letters sent to retailers by Friends of the Earth and allies asking them to commit to stop selling neonicotinoids and plants pre-treated with these pesticides, can be found at www.BeeAction.org.

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Contact:
Stacy Malkan, 510-542-9224, stacydmalkan@gmail.com
Eric Dyson, 202-222-0730, edyson@foe.org
Paul Towers, 916-216-1082, ptowers@panna.org

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