Supermarket Chain to Stop Suppliers from Using Bee-Harming Pesticides

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 15, 2013) British supermarket chain, Waitrose Limited, has made the decision to phase out the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides across its supply chain. This is happening in lieu of strong regulatory changes expected by the European Union (EU).

The company, which has more than 200 branches across the UK, told its fruit, vegetable, and flower suppliers that they would have until the end of 2014 to stop using neonictoinoids, in particular imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. These restrictions, delineated in Waitrose’s new Seven Point Plan for Pollinators, will eventually extend to some of their commodities, including oil seed and corn; however, the company did not announce any timeline for this phase-out.

The managing director, Mark Price, released a statement that said, “Waitrose aims to be a restorative retailer, putting back more than we take from the environment, and we believe our decision on the three formulations of neonicotinoids is appropriate until conclusive evidence is put forward about the effects of these three chemicals.”

The move follows in the footsteps of other high profile garden centers, hardware stores, and DYI retailers that have already stopped supplying these harmful chemicals on their shelves. Nevertheless, Waitrose’s commitment to the pollinator protection adds strength to the campaign for a full ban on neonictoinoids in the EU, despite current resistance by the British government, and pesticide manufacturers like Bayer and Syngenta.

As it begins the phase-out of neonicotinoids, Waitrose has also committed to fund research on the impact of multiple pesticide uses on pollinators, through the University of Exeter. The goal of this three-year program will be to investigate feasible alternative approaches for pest control, though whether those methods will be least-toxic is unclear.

As businesses like Waitrose take steps against the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, it becomes difficult for policy makers to ignore strong clear research that chemicals are detrimental to the health of bees and other pollinators.

Beyond Pesticides and our partners have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend the use of these chemicals pending a full review of their effects on pollinators. A recent report issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) states that certain neonicotinoid insecticides pose an unacceptable hazard to honey bees. The EFSA report concludes that systemic contamination of neonicotinoid-treated crops, neonicotinoid dust exposure, and contaminated nectar and pollen contributes to declines in honey bees and weakens their hives. With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other insects for pollination, the decline of honey bees and other pollinators due to pesticides, and other man-made causes demands immediate action. For more on this and what you can do to protect pollinators, visit Beyond Pesticides’ Pollinators and Pesticides page.

Sources: The Guardian, http://www.beyondpesticides.org 

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.