Written by Alisha M. Forrester Scott
You are in a Home Depot, Lowe’s or other major garden center, and you decide to purchase some new “bee-friendly” plants for your yard. You pick out your favorite varieties, take them home, and plant them. You step back from your planting work, and feel pleased to be helping keep bees and pollinators happy, by purchasing plants to attract them. End of story? Sadly, no.
Today, an international network of environmental organizations in 74 countries called Friends of the Earth, announced the results of a “new” and “first-of-its-kind pilot study” which showed that 54% of “bee-friendly” plants sold at garden centers nationwide have been pre-treated with bee-toxic pesticides. A Friends of the Earth Facebook post simply read: “many “bee friendly” home garden plants sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s and other leading garden centers have been pre-treated with pesticides shown to harm and kill bees.” The plants that were studies were purchased from major garden retail centers in the Bay Area of northern California, Washington, D.C., and the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
According to Friends of the Earth, they conducted the pilot study “to determine the extent of neonicotinoid contamination of common nursery plants purchased at retail garden centers in cities across the U.S. This is the first investigation of neonicotinoid insecticide concentrations in “bee-friendly” nursery plants sold to consumers at garden centers in cities across America. The findings indicate that bee-friendly nursery plants sold at U.S. retailers may contain systemic pesticides at levels that are high enough to cause adverse effects on bees and other pollinators — with no warning to consumers.”
The Friends of the Earth report was written by Timothy Brown, PhD, Pesticide Research Institute; Susan Kegley, PhD, Pesticide Research Institute; and Lisa Archer, Friends of the Earth-US. Two handfuls of individuals reviewed the report prior to its release: Professor Jim Frazier, PhD, Pennsylvania State University; Nichelle Harriott, PhD, Beyond Pesticides; Professor Vera Krischik, PhD, University of Minnesota; Stacy Malkan, Communications Consultant, Friends of the Earth; Scott Hoffman Black, PhD, and Jennifer Hopwood, PhD, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Dr. Pierre Mineau, Pierre Mineau Consulting; Judy Wu, Graduate Fellow, University of Minnesota; Larissa Walker, Center for Food Safety; and Paul Towers and Emily Marquez, PhD, Pesticide Action Network.
The report details ways to keep pollinators safe and include point-by-point instructions specifically laid out for garden retailers, wholesale nursery operations supplying retailers, home gardeners and institutional purchasers, cities, counties, and states, Congress, consumers, and even the United States Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), who has yet to officially determine the safety of Neonicotinoids usage.
If you are a patron (spend money) of any national garden retail center, and especially if you purchase plants from them, please take the time to educate yourself on these devastating findings by clicking through the links below.
Important Story Links
Download the report from the Friends of the Earth website – http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/07/d/3118/Gardeners_beware_report_8-13-13-acknts.pdf
Download the press release from the Friends of the Earth website – http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2013-08-bee-die-offs-new-tests-find-bee-killing-pesticides
Visit the Friends of the Earth website – http://www.foe.org/beeaction
“Send a letter to the CEOs of Home Depot and Lowe’s asking them to stop selling bee-killing pesticides” – http://www.foe.org/beeaction#sthash.oPtgKVfq.dpufhttp://action.foe.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13389
“Tell Congress to stand up for bees and support the Save America’s Pollinators Act” – http://action.foe.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13977