Lowe’s and Home Depot were recently targeted in a campaign by activists urging the stores to stop selling neonicotinoid pesticides, a likely culprit in the decimation of bee and butterfly colonies. It looks as if at least one of the mega retailers listened. Lowe’s, one of the US’s largest home improvement and gardening supply stores, has plans to stop selling products containing ‘neonics,’ largely in response to activist pressure.
It is likely that the store is following the lead of other retailers who stopped selling neonics earlier this year.
Ironically, many plants being sold as “bee friendly” (i.e. some plants are attractive to pollinators and also repel pests that can devour a garden) at these retailers were pre-treated with neonics at levels even higher than those used on large farms. There are no labels on these plants indicating that they are pre-treated with neonics.
This particular group of insecticides is so dangerous that the entire state of Minnesota considered a complete ban, and the EU suspended their use in all 27 countries years ago. In the US, the city of Eugene, Oregon is the first city to have banned neonicotinoid insecticides.
Neonics are particularly worrisome as they are absorbed by the plant and transferred into its vascular system, making the plant itself (not just the insecticide) toxic to insects, including bees and butterflies.
“The impact of this class of insecticides on pollinating insects such as honey bees and native bees is a cause for concern. Because they are absorbed into the plant, neonicotinoids can be present in pollen and nectar, making these floral resources toxic to pollinators that feed on them. The long-lasting presence of neonicotinoids in plants makes it possible for these chemicals to harm pollinators even when the initial application is made outside of the bloom period. In addition, neonicotinoids persist in the soil and in plants for very long periods of time.”
Bees have been dying by the millions in what is called colony collapse disorder with much evidence pointing to neonicotinoids and other pesticides and herbicides as the most likely culprits.
Hopefully, Lowe’s will be the first of many more farm and gardening supply companies that will remove neonics from their shelves, in order to save the bees. Without them our food supply is in jeopardy.
Lowe’s plans to phase out neonics by 2019. Let’s hope it won’t be too late by then.