By Rachel Roberts
Lowe’s announced just last week (April 9th) that the company will no longer sell products treated with neonicotinoids, also know as neonics. Neonics are a type of pesticide that scientists believe is contributing to colony collapse disorder (CCD). CCD is s syndrome in which worker bees from a colony abruptly disappear. In Europe, managed honey bees have declined by about 25% between 1985 and 2005.
This is not just about a threat to some random insect. The potential extinction of the honeybee may be the greatest single threat to humanity. Without honeybees, fruits and vegetables would not grow. Albert Einstein once remarked, “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.”
Although no cause for CCD has been scientifically proven, a number of factors including pesticides such as neonics have the potential to damage the health of pollinators.
In a recent statement, Lowe’s announced that it is “committed to taking several steps to support pollinator health” and “will phase out the sale of products that contain neonic pesticides within 48 months as suitable alternatives become commercially available.”
In a joint study conducted in 2014 by the Pesticide and Research Institute and the environmental organization Friends of the Earth, 51% of garden plants pants bought at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart in 18 cities across the United States and Canada contained traces of neonic pesticides at levels that could potentially harm or kill bees. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a recent report that the risks of neonic use outweigh any benefits it may have.
Hopefully Home Depot and Walmart will follow Lowe’s footsteps and also phase out the sale of neonics.
Home Depot, the largest U.S. home improvement chain, has been taking strides to increase awareness regarding neonics. The company has asked its suppliers to label plants treated with neonics. Home Depot also said it was beginning to run tests in multiple states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics from plant production without hurting the plant’s health.
Just last year the warehouse retailer BJ’s Wholesale Club said it was asking all its vendors to label products with neonics or to provide plants free of the pesticide. The White House also announced plans last year to fund new honeybee habitats and to form a task force to study ways to reverse current honeybee declines.
So follow in Lowe’s footsteps—talk to the managers of your local nursery and your nearest big-box home improvement store—educate them about neonics, and help put an end to their use so we can prevent colony collapse disorder, and potentially save humanity!