A new, first-of-its-kind pilot study by Friends of the Earth-US and Pesticide Research Institute found that 54 percent of common garden plants purchased at top retailers including Lowes and Home Depot contained neonicotinoid pesticides, which studies show can harm or kill bees and other pollinators, with no warning to consumers.
Bees and other pollinators, essential for two-thirds of the food crops humans eat everyday, are in great peril, and populations are dwindling worldwide.
Pests, diseases, loss of forage and habitat, and changing climate have all been identified as possible contributing factors to global bee die-off. However, a growing body of science has implicated the world’s most widely-used pesticides, neonicotinoids (neonics) made by giant chemical companies Bayer and Syngenta, are a key factor in bees disappearing.
But neonics aren’t just used in agriculture — as our new pilot study shows, unbeknownst to consumers, many “bee friendly” garden plants sold at home garden centers have been pre-treated with these bee killing pesticides, which can contaminate their gardens and continue harming bees and other pollinators for months to years.
The European Union is set to suspend the use of three neonic pesticides later this year, after a scientific review by European Food Safety Authority found that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees. In addition, the UK’s largest garden retailers, including Homebase, B&Q and Wickes, have already stopped selling neonics. Unfortunately, despite mounting evidence linking neonics to bee declines and more than a million public comments urging swift protections for bees, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delayed action until 2018.
The bees can’t wait that long, and neither can we.
That’s why Friends of the Earth and allies are calling on the EPA and Congress to act quickly to restrict neonics to protect pollinators.
Download the report and our recommendations for consumers, retailers, suppliers, municipalities, institutional purchasers, EPA and Congress here.