Retailers to label neonic-treated plants

Scientific American is reporting from Reuters that Home Depot, BJ’s Wholesale, and other smaller retailers will soon require vendors to label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoid insecticides. Neonicotinoids are among the most commonly used insecticides on ornamental crops and all crops. This class of chemicals includes imidacloprid, dinotefuran, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid, clothianidin, and others. Controversy around neonics revolves around their potential to harm bees and other pollinators. Like most insecticides, neonics are acutely toxic to bees on contact. Since neonicotinoids move systemically within plant tissue they can also contaminate flower pollen and nectar that bees consume. Though this can negatively affect individual bees the effects on bee populations is not yet known (and very hard to measure).  Information about this was recently reviewed in two extension publications and a scientific paper. Of course there is no news that these outlets will stop selling neonicotinoids to consumers. Nursery and greenhouse growers who produce crops for retail outlets should start figuring out alternative insecticides as this trend is likely to spread.

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