In its just-published “2014 Social Responsibility Report,” home improvement chain Lowe’s announced plans to phase out all neonicotinoid and neonic-treated plant material over the next four years, following similar actions by other retailers.
In response, AmericanHort issued a press release stating, “Lowe’s position is surprising, considering the most recent and positive reports on the state of honeybee health (NASS honey report) and recent peer reviewed research. This is an issue for which sound science must take priority.”
Lowe’s report acknowledged that neonicotinoids are likely not the only factor affecting bee health: “Studies indicate that multiple factors, including mites, poor nutrition, loss of habitat and genetic conditions, are potentially damaging the health of pollinators. Some studies say that neonicotinoid (neonics) pesticides may be a factor.”
Despite this uncertainty, Lowe’s said it will take the following actions:
- Include greater organic and non-neonic product selections
- Phase out the sale of products that contain neonic pesticides within 48 months as suitable alternatives become commercially available
- Work with growers to eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants
- Encourage growers to use biological control programs
- Educate employees and customers through in-store resources such as brochures, fact sheets and product labels
- Provide expanded, related content on Lowes.com to help educate customers
- Fund pollinator gardens through partnership with Keep America Beautiful
Lowe’s actions follow a two-year campaign led by activist organization Friends of the Earth to urge major garden retailers to stop selling plants treated with neonicotinoids and remove neonic pesticides from their shelves. More than one million people signed petitions and thousands of activists delivered letters directly to stores in cities across the U.S. and Canada asking stores to remove neonic-related products.
Lowe’s announcement echoes other U.S. retailers who have taken similar steps in recent months. Last year, BJ’s Wholesale Club said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants free of neonics by the end of 2014 or to label such products. Home Depot also asked its suppliers to start labeling any plants treated with neonics.