Bees have had a rough time in the past few years – from the Varroa mite and colony collapse disorder to factory waste contaminating their honey. Heeding the insect’s buzz for help, UK home improvement retailers B&Q and Wickes have pledged to withdraw products containing a family of compounds called neonicotinoids – pesticides linked to the decline in bee populations. B&Q will stop selling its only product using imidacloprid, and Wickes will remove products with thiamethoxam, both of which are neonicotinoids. Together with clothianidin, these three chemicals are identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as nerve agents that are seriously damaging to the health of pollinators.

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The action by the companies comes in response to campaigns from environmental organizations and consumers, and they plan to continue to put pressure on other retailers to follow suit. The UK’s government advisory committee on pesticides is currently reviewing the use of neonicotinoids and their link to bee population decline, and the committee may soon suggest changes to the regulatory statutes governing their application. German pharmaceutical and chemical giant Bayer, which manufactures many of the compounds, is set to answer inquiries in Parliament this week.

Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth have called upon the Prime Minister to introduce a “national bee action plan” in order to address food security issues. The UK’s Soil Association has also lobbied for the strict review of pesticides and begun efforts to “name and shame” those involved in selling what has been called “unacceptable” substances by the EFSA. The EPA is currently reviewing the pesticides for their implications in “beekill” incidents in the United States, but they have not yet banned.

Via the Guardian

Images via Wikicommons users Skinkie and Eleassar