Retailers act on products linked to bee decline
29 January 2013
Two leading retailers are taking action on products containing pesticides linked to declining bee populations, Friends of the Earth has discovered today (Tuesday 29 January 2013). The move increases pressure on the UK Government to ban neonicotinoid chemicals linked to falling bee numbers.
• B&Q says it will no longer stock pesticide containing the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, because of "concerns about the potential for harm"
• Wickes says it is to replace a product containing the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, later this year.
Imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are among the three neonicotinoid chemicals - along with clothianidin - identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and scientists from EU member states earlier this month, as posing a risk to bees.
The revelations come as members of the Government's Advisory Committee on Pesticides meet today (Tuesday 29 January) to discuss recent developments on bees and pesticides, including the EFSA report. Also today (Tuesday) giant Friends of the Earth bees handed in a petition signed by over 64,000 people to Number 10 Downing Street urging David Cameron to introduce a National Bee Action Plan (photos available here).
Tomorrow (Wednesday 30 January) German chemical giant Bayer returns to Parliament to explain inconsistencies in its previous evidence on how long neonicotinoid pesticides linger in the environment. Bayer will be questioned by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee.
Friends of the Earth welcomes the moves by B&Q and Wickes and is calling on retailers to review all of their products that contain neonicotinoid insectides - especially clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.
Friends of the Earth is also calling on:
• The Government to immediately ban the three neonicotinoid pesticides identified by EFSA as a threat to bees
• The Government to ensure safe and effective alternatives to neonicotinoids are available to farmers - giving preference to non-chemical pest control.
Friends of the Earth's Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said;
"We're delighted stores are withdrawing these pesticides. Other retailers must follow suit and take action to protect our bees.
"The spotlight now falls on the UK Government. Ministers must help safeguard our bees by immediately suspending the three pesticides identified by European food safety scientists - and ensuring farmers have safe alternatives.
"Declining bee numbers are a real threat to food production. This is why the Prime Minister must introduce a National Bee Action Plan."
Notes to editors:
1. In a statement to Friends of the Earth B&Q said: "We have being watching the debate that is developing about the use of pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids, and their potential effect on the UK bee population. Whilst we believe that the vast majority of pesticides are not injurious to bees when used in accordance with the instructions, we have some concerns about the potential for harm to be caused by the unintentional misuse of products containing imidacloprid. In recent years, this active ingredient has been phased out of many retail products, and we currently sell only one garden insecticide that uses this active. As a result of our assessment, we have decided to withdraw it from sale and are investigating alternative treatments to meet customer needs."
2. In a statement to Friends of the Earth, Wickes said that: "Wickes only stocks one product containing one of the three chemicals highlighted by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) report. The product in question contains thiamethoxam and is licensed for amateur use. Wickes is not the licence holder and the product is not sold under Wickes own branding. The packaging includes a warning about its danger to bees and provides some guidance on how to protect bees when using the product. Wickes reviewed this product recently, prior to the publication of the EFSA report, and took the decision to replace it with an alternative which does not contain thiamethoxam. The substitute product will be available in stores later this year."
3. Earlier this month the European Food Safety Authority identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid insecticides: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/130116.htm
4. Pesticides and bees is the first item on the agenda of the UK Government's Advisory Committee on Pesticides today (Tuesday 29 January). http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/guidance/industries/pesticides/advisory-groups/acp/acp-agendas/Agenda_for_ACP_359_-_29_January_2013.htm
5 A list of garden products containing neonicotinoids can be found here:
6. Friends of the Earth research, published last year, found it would cost the UK at least an extra £1.8billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees. To read a briefing on the report, visit http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/bees_report_briefing.pdf. To read the full report visit http://www.foe.co.uk/beesreport.
7. In a report for Friends of the Earth bee experts at the University of Reading warned that pesticide use had risen by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010 and that more insecticide treatments tend to be applied to bee pollinated crops http://www.foe.co.uk/beesreport
8. 125 MPs joined Friends of the Earth campaigners in Westminster last week to show their support for action to reverse dwindling bee numbers.
9. Friends of the Earth's The Bee Cause campaign is supporting individuals to make change in their gardens and communities to help bees, and asking the Prime Minister to commit to a National Bee Action Plan. To support the call to David Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit The Bee Cause webpage www.foe.co.uk/bees
If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.
Published by Friends of the Earth Trust
Last modified: Jan 2013