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Friends of the Earth up the pressure on businesses to ban neonicotinoids

Published: 26 February 2013
As the European Commission pushed back its decision on enforcing restrictions on neonicotinoids, which have been linked to bee decline, environmentalist network Friends of the Earth has circulated a letter urging garden centre managers to ban the controversial pesticides.
Friends of the Earth up the pressure on businesses to ban neonicotinoids
The letter, which is from the executive director of FOE Andy Atkins, points out that if the EC decides in favour of the restriction, the domestic use of neonicotinoids would be restricted as well.

"Friends of the Earth thinks that following the EFSA review of risks to bees from the neonicotinoids, the science concerning the link between bee decline and these chemicals is strong enough to require to take extreme precaution for honey and wild bees. We are therefore inviting garden centres and other retailers of common insecticide products containing these chemicals to remove them from sale regardless of whether there is a restriction or not."

Several garden centre chains as well as DIY stores B&Q, Wickes and Homebase have already pulled neonicotinoid products from their shelves. The FOE letter urges other garden centres to do the same.

While the RSPB has taken a stand alongside FOE and the EFSA, stating: "There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that neonicotinoids may have unforeseen consequences for some insects, especially bees," other associations have allied themselves on the other side of the debate.

The HTA, GCA and Bee Farmer Association all assert that there isn't enough scientific evidence to support a ban on neonicotinoid products, while suppliers including Bayer Garden are also urging retailers to think twice before issuing an outright ban on products.

"Bees make a vital contribution as pollinators and so [we] take the health of the bee population very seriously," said Bayer Garden's Alison Mulvaney. "Claims that these neonicotinoids under discussion are having a negative impact on the bee population are unproven.

"The peer reviewed research instead attributes a great deal of the decline to the Varroa mite and other parasitic mites; bacterial, fungal and viral diseases; habitat loss and degradation; and genetic factors. More research is needed to tackle these challenges effectively."

The only Bayer Garden product to contain one of the three neonicotinoid pesticides highlighted by the EFSA is its Provado Lawn Grub Killer. The supplier pointed out that when used correctly, with the user mowing the lawn prior to application, it poses no significant risk to bees.

Last weekend Friends of the Earth took their campaign to Harrow Garden Centre, part of the Garden Centre Group (pictured). According to the Friends of the Earth, the GCG said its centres only stock Bayer's Lawn Grub Killer in very small volumes, and repeated Bayer's point about the correct use of the product posing no risk to bees.

DIY Week has contacted the Garden Centre Group for further comment on this topic.

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