Saturday, March 14, 2015

Nursery Labels for Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Many of you know that bee-lovers have been pushing companies to label their plants for neonicotinoid pesticides.  Neonicotinoids are pesticides that are absorbed into the leaves and stem and other parts of the plant from the roots up.  Thus, they are less harmful for humans to use because you don't have to worry about residue or spray drift, but unfortunately they are also suspected to have a detrimental effect on helpful wildlife such as bees.


Recent studies have shown that, even though the low levels of neonicotinoids in plant nectar and pollen don't outright kill bees, it still adversely affects the bees' brains, causing them to struggle to learn and remember things.  Studies have found there is a relationship between neonicotinoid use and the Colony Collapse Disorder of bees, which has gotten so much press lately.

Check your labels!  Systemic products made by companies such as Bayer often contain
neonicotinoids, two of which are Imidacloprid and Clothianidin.
Since many gardeners certainly don't want the plants in the garden to be contributing to the death of bees, people have been petitioning the big box nurseries to label their plants for these pesticides.  I have to applaud BJ's Wholesale Club and Home Depot for stepping up (yay!).  They both have agreed to require their vendors to either stop using neonicotinoid pesticides or to label for them if they do continue to use them.

new Home Depot labels for Neonicotinoid Pesticides
I was at Home Depot the other day and got to see their new labels.  They say, "This plant is protected from problematic Aphids, Whiteflies, Beetles, Mealy Bugs and other unwanted pests by Neonicotinoids."  Wow, I am impressed with their marketing team - here I was expecting them to have a little tiny label shamefully admitting a plant had neonicotinoid pesticides, but instead they were spinning it into a positive thing!

back of the label
Most of their indoor plants had these labels.  I must say, after having battled all sorts of pest problems with my indoor plants, I rather understand why they would want to use neonicotinoids on them.  And since those plants are indoors, they aren't hurting bees.  (However, I do wonder what would happen if my plant-loving cat ate one of those plants...)

What about outdoor plants, though?  Do many of them have labels?


We don't have a lot of outdoor plants in stock yet, as it is definitely still winter up here in the Boston area.  Home Depot only had their berry plants and grapes in.  I was glad to see that most of them were not grown with neonicotinoid pesticides, though there were a couple varieties of grapes labeled for it.


I guess time will tell as to whether or not people will buy them.  Hopefully, the labels will lead people to be more cautious about buying these plants, or, at the very least, cause them to do a little research about what these pesticides are that are on their plants.


And hopefully, people will make different choices in their plant buying - putting pressure on growers to use alternative (and hopefully more wildlife-friendly) pest management.


So has anyone else seen these labels?  Or seen BJ's tags?  I am hoping some Southern gardeners can tell if many of their outdoor plants are labeled with neonicotinoid pesticides.   I am hoping, too, that other big-box stores will follow Home Depot and BJ's leadership in giving their consumers the ability to make more knowledgeable choices!  Kudos to them!

28 comments:

  1. It's still way too cold here for the box stores to have plants coming in. Most of the plants sold in this area are grown in Tennessee. Since Canada stopped the use of pesticides by the average home owner, I have been waiting to hear if there is any effect on their bees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know Europe banned them, but apparently since growers were having trouble trying to find alternatives, some countries provided exemptions to farmers with major crops. So we'll see if this somewhat partial ban will help the bees at all over there.

      Delete
  2. Yippee for Home Depot!!! I didn't know this - I haven't been out plant shopping this spring yet since it has rained every day for a month - but I am so glad to know it! I am taking a beekeeping class, and have become concerned about what I put into my garden. I'm going to print out your post and take it to my class. Maybe this will put some pressure on other nurseries to do the same. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so! It would be so great if all the nurseries did this so that consumers at least knew what's on their plants that they are buying. So great to see you around on the blogosphere, Holley! Good luck with the beekeeping!

      Delete
  3. Good to know. I haven't been in Home Depot for a while, and we don't have BJ's near our home. That is a step in the right direction, isn't it? Thanks for posting this, Indie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's at least a step in the right direction. There's been a good amount of press about the dangers of these pesticides for bees. We definitely need to spread awareness, so that consumers stop buying these plants. And I personally will be far more likely to shop at a place that has these tags as opposed to big box stores that don't. I don't want to take the chance of buying plants that work against the bees!

      Delete
  4. I was just over at Casa Mariposa reading about pesticides on annuals, which scared me from ever buying them agan.

    It's a clever marketing move by your big box stores, but maybe they really do have the betterment of the world in their choices. I'm wondering how many gardeners will notice, or understand the label without reading about it.

    When it's spring here, I am going to be asking a lot more questions at garden centers thanks to your posts!

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow I doubt that very many big box stores place the betterment of the world over the bottom line, but I am glad that there has been enough press and awareness about these issues that stores like Home Depot and BJ's are starting to label. I know I will be much more likely to buy stuff from them than from stores that don't label!

      Delete
  5. I love that last photo! I haven't been in Home Depot recently, but I will definitely look for those labels. Like you, I applaud their stance on this. Over the last few years I have also noticed more organic products at home Depot. Progress is happening…though way too slow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I have seen more organic products in stores in general, which is such an encouraging trent! Though I definitely agree, it is way too slow.

      Delete
  6. People will only be aware if they realize what neonics are. Most people are so bug-phobic they might actually prefer the plants that have been treated. But at least it's a start. I just hope they bring in clean plants that are pesticide-free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly you are right. We definitely need to increase awareness about these pesticides. There has been a good amount of press about the problems with the bees lately, so I hope it will continue and these studies will be made more widely known. I also do hope that growers won't turn to other pesticides that are just as harmful to the environment.

      Delete
  7. I agree the marketing department did do the spin doctor treatment on the labels...Tammy's right unless you know what a neonic is this label seems to encourage buying these protected plants!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's impressive, isn't it?! It is sad, as many people will think this is a good thing unless we increase awareness about this issue.

      Delete
  8. very interesting post, and very scary. We are so dependent on bees, and it seems they are in trouble world-wide. Hopefully people will think before they buy these plants but like Tammy says, people who hate bugs may prefer them. I wish they wouldn't create these plants, at least people could choose whether to spray or not. But the genie's well and truly out of the bottle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the environmental news I read is always so scary. There has been a monumental decrease of wildlife just in the last few decades. Very sad.

      Delete
  9. This is good news, Indie; I hope more nurseries and big box stores take note and label their plants, so we know what we're buying. Unfortunately, though, as Tammie says, I think a lot of people will see these labels as a positive thing and buy the plants with pesticides instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly so true. We really need to spread awareness about this issue. I am so glad personally, though, to know which plants have these pesticides in their systems. I do hope that growers will use neonics less, at least, since there will be at least a few gardeners I know who won't buy any plants with those labels!

      Delete
  10. I am hoping to see more plants without the neonicotinoids. I even find local nurseries won't tell me what they use so I walk out and won't buy but so many others do buy from them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's too bad! One of our largest local nurseries doesn't use them, thankfully, though they still do carry some plants from other growers, such as Proven Winners, which does use them. We have to be so careful anymore as to what we buy, sadly.

      Delete
  11. You had mentioned learning bird calls... I thought this might be of help...

    http://ramblingwoods.com/2015/03/19/learning-bird-songs-from-cornells-all-about-birds-apps-sound-collections-and-field-guides/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I didn't even think that there might be an app for that. There's an app for everything anymore!

      Delete
  12. Interesting and important post...My indoor cats would eat them so I don't have any plants at all inside now.. Michelle

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm way late reading blogs but, thank you for the education! I will definitely be reading the labels.....

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm no longer buying roses, simply growing the 3 white ones I found here. But I am disappointed by the greenwashing unproven evasion from Ludwig's Roses (my source for the Porterville roses) I never used pesticides but I do resent them pretending that neonics are not actually an issue.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was just at Home Depot today, and I saw a lot. I was so ticked off by the spin they put on it that I walked out without buying anything.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good to know all this!! I am working at the Pest control Port Macquarie company and always look for this kind of stuff online. These Nursery Labels for Neonicotinoid Pesticides are amazing dear!!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...