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PLNA e-News: Plants, Pests & Diseases

Lowe's to Ban Neonics

Wednesday, April 29, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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Bee HivesMOORESVILLE, NC - In April, Lowe’s announced that they will be phasing out neonicotinoids (neonics) in their garden centers. Lowe's said it will phase out neonics in shelf products and plants by the spring of 2019, as suitable alternatives become available.

Lowe’s follows Home Depot who announced last year that they would require their growers to label plants treated with neonics, while they looked into phasing out plants treated with neonics altogether. Several privately held garden center chains, such as Bachman’s in Minnesota, have also announced that they are phasing out neonicotinoid-treated plants.

Public opposition has been building over the use of neonics because some environmental groups have tied their use to honey bee colony collapse disorder (CCD), although peer-reviewed scientific evidence for such a connection has not been established. USDA’s Agriculture Research Service has concluded that “no scientific cause for CCD has been proven.”

Nonetheless, public opinion is running far ahead of the science on neonics. Pressure on major plant buyers such as Home Depot and Lowes to not carry plants that have been treated with neonics may result in a defacto ban on their use.

The big question is what will replace neonics in the arsenal of nursery and greenhouse growers’ tools to control insect pests? Neonics are less toxic than many of the pesticides they replaced. They are also the only practical treatment for woolly adelgid that is devastating the eastern hemlocks and the emerald ash borer that is wiping out American ash species.

AmericanHort released a statement on Lowe’s decision that is quoted below:

April 9, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) –As professional horticulturists, we grow trees, plants and flowers, and healthy trees, plants and flowers are critically important to healthy bees and healthy bee habitats. Pollinator health is a highly complex issue, and we recognize that there many factors that can affect bee health. Although the improper use of pesticides can harm bees, a growing number of credible independent studies indicate that neonicotinoids, when used as directed, are not the cause of widespread bee health issues.

 Consumers want plants that are healthy, beautiful and pest-free, and neonicotinoids have proven to be among the most effective pest management tools available. Neonicotinoids also are among the safest products we have for both our employees and the environment.

 Lowe’s position is surprising, considering the most recent and positive reports on the state of honeybee health (NASS honey report) and recent peer reviewed research. This is an issue for which sound science must take priority.

 Plant growers are experts on how to produce healthy plants. We embrace the challenge of protecting bee and pollinator health and the opportunity to be part of the solution. We will continue to fund important research on the health of bees, and guide horticulture on safe and responsible pest management. Horticulture will look to the best science to guide our efforts. 

For additional information on what horticulture needs to know about pollinator health, view our video at

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