Leading garden centres are once again being put under pressure to stop selling a Bayer Provado product over concerns that it is harmful to bees.
Ethical Consumer magazine looks at gardening in its latest report and product guide, and points the finger at nine garden centre chains for continuing to sell Provado Ultimate Bug Killer, which contains thiacloprid, a neonicotinoid chemical.
Amid much debate nationally and in the industry, three other neonicotinoid pesticides were subject to a temporary ban
in the EU from 2013 because of evidence that they contribute to the decline of bees. Thiacloprid was not banned, but environmentalists say there is now growing proof that it makes bees more likely to die from common diseases and impair their navigational abilities.
Ethical Consumer says B&Q, Blue Diamond, Dobbies, Hilliers, Homebase, Notcutts, Squires, Wilko and Wyevale are all stocking Provado Ultimate Bug Killer and is urging them to take the product off their shelves.
Jane Turner, co-researcher on Ethical Consumer's guide to garden centres, said: "Gardeners will be shocked to discover that by using these insecticides they are unwittingly introducing dodgy chemicals into their gardens which are being increasingly implicated in the crisis facing our honey bees.
"We call on all garden centres to ensure that they don't sell any products that could harm our bees."
However, spokesman for Bayer CropScience Dr Julian Little told The Guardian: "The reality is that the active ingredient of Provado, thiacloprid, is extremely safe to bees when used according to the label instructions, and users of it can be assured that they can control the destructive pests that would otherwise spoil their gardens in a way that will have no effects on bees."
Environmental campaigners, though, are once again ramping up the pressure. Friends of the Earth said there was "a massive opportunity for retailers to show leadership where the government has so far failed by taking these products off their shelves.
"With almost one in 10 European wild bees facing extinction and many more under severe threat, we cannot afford to spray chemicals linked to their decline in our gardens and parks."
Last month, Bayer failed in its attempt to sue Friends of the Earth
Germany over the organisation's claims that thiacloprid harms bees.
And lobby group 38 Degrees is pushing politicians for "a promise to ban bee-killing pesticides in the UK for good".
It said: "Remember the toxic pesticides that wipe out bees? This week, an influential group of scientists concluded that they don't just kill bees - they wreak 'havoc' with other insects and plants in the countryside too.
"Back in 2013, 38 Degrees members worked with campaigners across Europe to get these pesticides banned in the EU. But the ban could be lifted in December.
"Four weeks away from our election, we need to make sure now that the next government will protect our bees...A huge petition overnight could make sure that every party includes an extra line in their manifesto: a promise to ban bee-killing pesticides in the UK for good."