Groups Urge More Than 100 Garden Retailers to Stop Selling Pollinator-Toxic Pesticides

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Expert contacts:

Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0715, tfinckhaynes@foe.org

Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6405, LABurd@biologicaldiversity.org

Roger Williams, Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, (802) 355-9933, rogerw@nordlink.com

Communications contact:

Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida, (407) 886-5151, Farmworkerassoc@aol.com

Groups Urge More Than 100 Garden Retailers to Stop Selling Pollinator-Toxic Pesticides

WASHINGTON - To celebrate National Pollinator Week, more than 50 beekeeper, farmer, farmworker, faith-based, environmental and consumer organizations sent letters to more than 100 of the top garden retailers across the country, including True Value and Ace Hardware, urging public commitments to stop selling bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. These letters follow thousands of calls on Tuesday from customers of Ace and True Value urging these retailers to stop selling bee-killing pesticides and pre-treated plants.

Ace Hardware, the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world, announced at the beginning of June it is willing to move away from products containing neonicotinoids -- a leading driver of global bee declines -- but has not responded to requests for dialogue; or to clarify and make public their commitments to phase these pesticides out of their business.

“We are pleased that Ace has stated its willingness to move away from bee-toxic neonicotinoids,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “However, Ace, True Value and other retailers must do their part to address the bee crisis by joining their competitors in making concrete commitments to eliminate bee-killing pesticides. Until then, these retailers will continue to be part of the problem.”

“The science is clear, neonics are a leading cause of pollinator die-offs,” said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We urge Ace and True Value to follow in the footsteps of many other community retailers and act now to remove all products containing neonics from their shelves. Our bees can’t wait much longer.”

"Unseen, unheard, yet on the front lines of neonic pesticides on garden plants are the farmworkers in the nurseries and greenhouses that grow and ship the plants that Ace sells to the public," said Tirso Moreno, General Coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida. "If the pesticides are killing the bees, they are certainly impacting the health of the farmworkers who are exposed every day - 8, 10, 12 hours a day - at their places of work. Protecting bees means protecting farmworker families."

"The pesticide companies keep telling us their neonic products are fine if used according to the label. Recent field tests in Canada have proven that to be false - just as hundreds of previous tests have done. The sooner we get these products off the shelves, the sooner we can start to build back a safer habitat for all pollinators,” said Roger Williams, President of Central Maryland Beekeepers Association.

In June, Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute released the report, “Growing bee-friendly garden plants: Profiles in innovation,” which provides examples of wholesale nurseries, retailers and institutions that are responding to consumer demand to protect bees. Nurseries across the nation, large and small, are taking a proactive, precautionary stance on neonicotinoid use. The report provides strategies and resources for other businesses to follow the lead of these industry leaders.

In the past year, more than twenty nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers -- including Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW), the world’s largest home improvement retailers, Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM) and BJ’s Wholesale Club -- have taken steps to eliminate bee-killing pesticides from their stores. The UK’s top garden retailers, including Homebase, B&Q and Wickes, have also stopped selling neonicotinoids.

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In addition to retailers, more than twenty states, cities, counties, universities and federal agencies have passed measures that minimize or eliminate the use of neonicotinoids including Seattle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Boulder, Colo.; Warren County, N.C.; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The White House established the Pollinator Health Task Force in June 2014 to assess pollinator health and the impacts of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on pollinators. In May, the Task Force released their National Pollinator Health Strategy. This plan did not require any restrictions on the current uses of neonicotinoid pesticides, even though there are is a large and growing body of evidence demonstrating harm from their use.

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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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