A new study released by Friends of the Earth reveals that many “bee-friendly” plants sold at garden centers have been pre-treated with toxic pesticides shown to harm or kill bees. The pilot study co-authored by the Pesticide Research Institute found that 7 of 13 garden plant samples purchased at top retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Target in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Minneapolis contained nervous system toxins (neurotoxins) that research demonstrates harms or kills bees.
The study found more than half of the garden plants tested contained neonicotinoids (also known as neonics), which are used in agriculture and on garden plants. Neonics have been cited as a key factor in global bee die-off rates that are staggeringly high. The European Union has scheduled the suspension of neonics later this year after the European Food Safety Authority found that the pesticides pose a serious threat to bees.
In an article, Lisa Archer, director of the Food and Technology Program at Friends of the Earth said: “Bees are essential to our food system and they are dying at alarming rates. Neonic pesticides are a key part of the problem we can start to fix right now in our own backyards.”
Emily Marquez, staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network says: “Studies indicate that widespread use of systemic pesticides like neonicotinoids is contributing to major bee kills around the globe. And even at doses that don’t kill bees, neonics weaken bee immune systems and impair critical brain functions, making it hard for bees to find their food sources and return to the hive.”
According to EcoWatch, an environmental news service, neonicotinoids are found in many common products used in nurseries or retailers and sold to consumers for home garden use. They list the following products as sources of neonics:
Flower, Rose & Shrub Care
Imida-Teb Garden SC
Triple Crown Insecticide
What You Can Do:
-Stop shopping at retailers that are selling neonicotinoid pesticide-containing plants and falsely advertising them as “bee friendly.” Not only is this practice potentially detrimental to bees it is also duping consumers.
-Stop using the above list of neonic-containing pesticides at home or in your garden.
-Take the list of common names of neonic-containing pesticides with you when you buy garden plants and get the retailer/nursery to confirm they are not used.
-If you are using any of the above neonic-containing pesticides properly dispose of them at hazardous waste disposal centers. Do NOT flush them or pour them out in your yard.
-Write a letter to your municipal government asking them to stop using pesticides on public land and parks. You’d be surprised to learn how many still use them.