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Lowe’s commits to phase-out neonicotinoids from its shelves in a move to protect bees and pollinators

Thursday, April 9th 2015 4:00:24pm

Friends of the Earth Canada Statement

(April 9, 2015 Ottawa, ON
) - Lowe’s, North America’s second largest home improvement company, announced today that they will take steps towards a 2019 phase out of bee-harmful neonicotinoids (PDF page 28). Neonicotinoid insecticides are a key factor in bee declines and are harming beneficial organisms in our gardens, including soil microbes, butterflies, earthworms and birds.

“We commend Lowe’s leadership with its important steps for bee health,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada. “Over a million Canadians and Americans petitioned Lowe’s to stop selling neonic-contaminated plants. Lowe’s leadership announcement shows they want to continue to earn the trust of their customers. It also sends an influential signal to other retailers and suppliers in the horticultural business.”

Lowe’s commitments:
  • A time-bound phase out of neonicotinoid (“neonics”) containing products in shelf products and plants, to be completed by the Spring of 2019, as suitable alternatives become available. For nurseries, Lowe’s will phase-out neonics for bee-attractive plants, and plants where regulatory requirements do not require the application of neonics (certain states require the application of neonics on certain plants and nursery material). Lowe’s plans to implement this phase-out as soon as is practicable.
  • Redoubling pesticide management efforts and the addition of an application reduction plan with plant suppliers, including the collection and sharing of growers’ best practices around use of biological controls and integrated pest management (“IPM”) practices, and research into best alternatives. Nurseries will be required to disclose to Lowe’s the amount of pesticides used per acre, or a similar metric.
  • Increased focus on consumer education initiatives including in-store distribution of EPA and Pollinator Partnership pesticide brochures and product tags which will highlight the health of bees and other pollinators.
  • Funding of pollinator gardens through the company’s philanthropic and volunteer programs.
  • Disclosure of these efforts in its 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.
  • Continued dialogue with Domini, Trillium and Friends of the Earth focused on implementation and public reporting of these commitments.

Lowe’s announcement comes eight months after a meta-analysis of 1,121 peer-reviewed studies by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides concluded neonicotinoids are a leading factor of bee population declines.

This announcement follows a two-year campaign led by Friends of the Earth and allies to urge Lowe’s and other major garden retailers to stop selling plants and seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. More than one million people signed petitions and thousands of individuals delivered letters to Lowe’s stores in cities across North America demanding this change.

- 30 -

For more information, or to schedule interviews, please contact:
Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada, (613) 724-8690, beatrice@foecanada.org.

Friends of the Earth Canada (www.foecanada.org) is the Canadian member of Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network campaigning on today’s most urgent environmental and social issues.

Neonicotinoids work by interfering with insects’ nervous systems. Three neonicotinoid pesticides are subject to a temporary ban in the European Union (EU) from 2013 due to evidence that they harm bees.

In light of the EU ban, Friends of the Earth has been calling for a Canada-wide ban on the registration of neonicotinoids since 2013. In Canada, the federal government controls registration of pesticides products and the provinces control sale and use of the pesticides. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in North American to restrict neonic use permanently for neonic-coated corn and soy seed, developed by Bayer CropScience and introduced about a decade ago.

Friends of the Earth has commissioned  several public opinion polls on neonicotinoids in Ontario--most recently in December 2014, following the release of Ontario’s discussion paper on pollinator health. Public support for the government’s plan is strong among both rural and urban respondents, across all regions of the province. The proposed reduction was endorsed by 85% of residents in southwestern Ontario; 81% in Toronto; 79% in the Niagara/Hamilton region; 78% in the GTA; 77% in Eastern Ontario; 63% in Northern Ontario; and 60% in Central Ontario.