Gardeners Tell Lowe’s: Don’t be a “Little Shop of Horrors” for Bees

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Expert Contacts: Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Food futures campaigner, (202) 222-0715, tfinckhaynes@foe.org (East Coast) or Lisa Archer, Director, Food and technology program, (202) 222-3145, larcher@foe.org (West Coast)

Communications Contacts: EA Dyson, 202-222-0730, edyson@foe.org or Kate Colwell, 202-222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

Gardeners Tell Lowe’s: Don’t be a “Little Shop of Horrors” for Bees

More than a million people ask Lowe’s to stop selling bee-killing pesticides

WASHINGTON - This week, more than 30,000 people across the U.S. and Canada will swarm Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) stores to ask the retailer to not be a “little shop of horrors” for bees and to take bee-killing pesticides off its shelves. Friends of the Earth and allies will also deliver more than one million petition signatures asking Lowe’s to give bees treats, not tricks and to  eliminate products and plants pre-treated with bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. Larger events are planned at Lowe’s stores near Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, Ashland, OR, Windsor, Canada and Ottawa, Canada.

These actions are part of an international campaign asking retailers to stop selling neonicotinoids -- the most widely used class of pesticides in the world -- due to a growing body of science indicating that they are a leading cause of bee declines across the globe. A study released in June revealed that “bee-friendly” garden plants sold at Lowe’s and other retailers contain these bee-killing pesticides, with no warning to consumers. Scientists have determined that these insecticides are deadly to birds and to other wildlife, as well.

“The science is clear: neonicotinoid pesticides are a key contributor to bee declines and are harming birds, butterflies and other organisms essential for healthy ecosystems and food production,” said Friends of the Earth Food futures campaigner Tiffany Finck-Haynes. “More than a million people are calling on Lowe’s to do the right thing and take bee-killing pesticides off its shelves for the sake of bees and our food supply.”

In the face of mounting evidence and growing consumer demand, more than a dozen nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers across the U.S., including BJ’s Wholesale Club (NYSE:  BJ), have taken steps to eliminate bee-harming pesticides from their stores. The UK’s top garden retailers, including Homebase, B & Q, and Wickes, voluntarily stopped selling neonicotinoids. Home Depot (NYSE: HD) The world’s largest home improvement retailer is requiring its suppliers to label all plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides by the fourth quarter of 2014 and is working with its suppliers to “find alternative insecticides for protecting live goods and bees.” Last week, Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM) issued a new product rating system, which identifies pollinator protection as a priority by restricting neonicotinoid pesticides.

“It’s time for Lowe’s to join its competitors and make a meaningful commitment to get bee-killing pesticides off its shelves,” said Lisa Archer, Food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth. “In the meantime, gardeners should plant untreated seeds or choose organic plants for their gardens.”

Bees and other pollinators, essential for the two-thirds of the food crops humans eat everyday, are dwindling worldwide. In the past eight years, beekeepers have lost an average of 30 percent of their hives. The European Union has banned several neonicotinoids and cities and states across the U.S. and Canada have passed measures to address the use of these pesticides and protect bees.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency released an analysis confirming that neonicotinoid seed treatments offer little or no increase in economic benefit to U.S. soybean production. This analysis further confirms the urgent need to stop the release and use of these pesticides in agriculture and in the marketplace in order to best protect pollinators and the planet.

Last week, the White House announced a delay in its report on pollinators ordered by President Obama in a June 2014 memorandum. The president also charged EPA with assessing the effects of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators within 180 days. EPA announced last week that it would not release a regulatory decision on neonicotinoids before 2016. 

In addition, the White House announced last week that some agencies are creating guidelines for creating and maintaining quality pollinator-friendly federal lands. The Council on Environmental Quality released a guidance for new construction, building renovations, landscaping improvements and leasing facilities at federal facilities and on federal lands, which outlines a number of recommendations including that federal lands acquire seeds and plants from nurseries that do not treat these items with systemic insecticides. These guidelines have the potential to increase the demand by the federal government for truly pollinator friendly plants.

This week’s deliveries and events are being organized by Friends of the Earth U.S., American Bird Conservancy, Bee Safe Neighborhoods, Beyond Pesticides, Beyond Toxics, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Ecology Center, Environment Texas, Friends of the Earth Canada, Food and Water Watch, GMO Inside, Maryland Pesticide Network, Mercola.com, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network North America, Pollinator Project, Save our Environment, Sum of Us and Toxic Free North Carolina.

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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