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Garden centres’ pledge on neonicotinoids

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Honey bees
Pressure is being put on Homebase to end the use of neonicotinoids

Nine out of top 10 retailers working to prevent use – but not Homebase

Environmental campaigners have welcomed pledges by leading garden centres to stop the flowering plants they sell being grown with pesticides linked to declines in bees.

Friends of the Earth (FotE) said its survey of 10 top garden retailers found nine did not want the plants they sold to be grown using three neonicotinoid pesticides restricted in the EU, and were working with suppliers to prevent their use.

However, the group called on Homebase, which has yet to commit to working with suppliers on the chemicals, to take action.

A study earlier this year found retailers were selling “bee-friendly” plants that contain high levels of the insecticides – more than 70 per cent contained neonicotinoids, including the restricted ones.

Research suggests neonicotinoids damage bees’ ability to forage and navigate as well as colony growth, and three key pesticides were banned by the EU in 2013 for use on a number of flowering crops and ornamental plants.

B&Q announced in May it had banned suppliers from using any of the nine neonicotinoid pesticides on its flowering plant range available from next February.

Wyevale has said that it does not want the three restricted neonicotinoids in its garden plants.

Friends of the Earth’s petition

FotE is handing in a petition to the Government from more than 33,000 people, urging it to support a permanent, comprehensive ban on all neonicotinoid pesticides.

The group’s bee campaigner Nick Rau said: “We’re delighted that leading garden retailers are responding to public concern and mounting scientific evidence by saying ‘no’ to plants grown with bee-harming chemicals.

“We’re particularly pleased the UK’s biggest garden centre Wyevale has listened to the thousands of people who contacted them and has pledged to work harder to ensure the removal of restricted neonicotinoids from its supply chain.

“We now urge Homebase to follow suit and reject these chemicals too. People up and down the country have been creating pollinator-friendly gardens – they need to be confident that the plants they buy are not going to harm Britain’s bees.

“The UK Government must also act on neonicotinoids by backing a full and permanent EU ban on these chemicals across Europe – and pledging to keep any restrictions post-Brexit.”

Statement from Homebase

Dahlia
Dahlia with water-resistant bee, RHS Harlow Carr, September 2016

Homebase said: “As the science surrounding bee populations matures, we will continue to work closely with our suppliers and partners to take responsible action with regards to ranges.

“We remain vigilant and continue to be guided by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs regarding the use and sale of pesticides.”

A Defra spokesman said: “The Government has fully applied restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids introduced by the EU to date.

“We make all decisions on pesticides based on the science and they are only approved once regulators are satisfied they meet safety standards for people and the environment.”

For more on FotE’s bee campaign, click here.

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