According to a report published by Greenhouse Management magazine, growers who supply Home Depot must now comply with the company’s new mandate requiring all plants treated with neonicotinoids to bear a special tag informing customers that the plant has been exposed to the controversial insecticides.
Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer with more than 2,200 retail stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In deciding to require the new tag, the retailer cited the potential ill effects neonicotinoid insecticides could be having on pollinator populations. Neonicotinoids have been blamed in the mass deaths of bees around the world and in Oregon, despite the opinions of esteemed bee experts who think there is likely a wide range of inter-related causes at blame for bee deaths.
According to the company’s new guidelines, growers who sell to Home Depot must now provide a secondary tag, 1 inch by 4.5 inches, for all plant material of all sizes.
Jim Berry, president of J. Berry Nurseries, fears the tag will discourage sales. “[T]he labeling of a plant with that tag is potentially creating customers’ perception that that plant should not be purchased,” Berry told the magazine. “Whether it’s a valid assumption or not, perception is reality. So you have to go with that. We certainly want consumers to be attracted to our plants instead of repelled by them.”
Last year, OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone served on a pollinator health task force appointed by the governor, which concluded that neonicotinoids are an essential tool against destructive pests, and that the science proving stated harms to others is inconclusive.
A report issued last year by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the EPA said honeybee health is being impacted by a wide range of factors including lack of forage, disease and parasites. AmericanHort and the Horticultural Research Institute, in partnership with the Society of American Florists, recently created the Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative task force to look deeper into the issue.
Until science can be more conclusive, growers who sell to Home Depot must either accept the potential consumer stigma associated with neonicotinoids, or make the necessary label changes and hope their alternative pest management methods work as well.