U.S. retailers look to limit pesticides to help honeybees

Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:36pm EDT
 
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By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - Home Depot (HD.N: Quote) and other U.S. companies are working to eliminate or limit use of a type of pesticide suspected of helping cause dramatic declines in honeybee populations needed to pollinate key American crops, officials said on Wednesday.

The moves include requiring suppliers to label any plants treated with neonicotinoid, or neonic, pesticides sold through home and garden stores.

Atlanta-based Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, is requiring its suppliers to start such labeling by the fourth quarter of this year, said Ron Jarvis, the company's vice president of merchandising/sustainability. Home Depot is also running tests in several states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics in their plant production without hurting plant health, he said.

"The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the relationship of the use of certain insecticides on our live goods and the decline in the honeybee population," Jarvis said in an email.

Also on Wednesday, BJ's Wholesale Club [BJ.UL], a warehouse retailer with more than 200 locations along the East Coast, said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants free of neonics by the end of 2014 or to label such products as requiring "caution around pollinators" like bees.

At least 10 other smaller retailers, with locations in Minnesota, Colorado, Maryland and California, have announced plans to limit or eliminate neonics from plant products.

The class of pesticides known as neonics are sold by agrichemical companies to boost yields of staple crops such as corn, but are also used widely on annual and perennial plants used in lawns and gardens.

A report issued on Wednesday by the environmental group Friends of the Earth said that 36 out of 71, or 51 percent, of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contained neonic pesticides.   Continued...

 
Shoppers look at appliances at a Home Depot store in New York in this December 23, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files