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Bee populations have plummeted over the last decade or so and activists and farmers are very concerned about the impact this loss will have on our food supply. Consequently, Oregon temporarily banned neonicotinoids – pesticides thought to be a large contributor to their decline (along with fungicides and other factors) – as a proactive measure, and Europe has done the same. Meanwhile, all kinds of initiatives exist to revive bee populations, including Home Depot’s “bee-friendly” plants. Problem is, researchers have discovered that some of these plants contain even more bee-killing pesticides than agricultural crops!
Home Depot is not the only big box store that markets bee-friendly plants. Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute surveyed other stores as well throughout Washington D.C., Minneapolis, and the San Francisco Bay area, including Lowes, and found that they all carried flowers and vegetable plants that are heavily treated with a toxic cocktail of pesticides, Fastco reports.
“Neonicotinoid residues were present in 54% of the 13 samples, with concentrations ranging from 11 to 1,500 micrograms per kilogram of plant (that’s over 200 times higher in some cases than agricultural crop residues),” writes Fastco. Many of the plants tested positive for multiple kinds of pesticides, which would have “sublethal affects on the bees” as they pollinate the plants.
“All of the samples with detections could potentially cause sublethal effects and mortality in pollinators following chronic exposure,” according to a report compiled by the researchers.
“Beyond acute pollinator mortality from bees receiving a lethal dose, neonicotinoids contribute to impairment in immune response, learning and memory, hive communications, and reproduction at doses far below those that cause bee kills.”