by Jane Fasullo
"Bee-Friendly" Bee Killer Plants – Neonicotinoids
This article is based on an article titled "Bee-Friendly" Plants That Kill Bees By Michelle Schoffro Cook on August 16, 2013 in Care2.com and on news articles that are more up to date.
While the original article is nearly ten years old, things have barely changed.
Back in 2013, "a study co-authored by the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth revealed that many "bee-friendly" plants sold at garden centers have been pre-treated with toxic pesticides shown to harm or kill bees. The study found that 7 of 13 garden plant samples purchased at top retailers like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Target in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Minneapolis contained nervous system toxins (neurotoxins) that research demonstrates harms or kills bees."
The neurotoxins, neonicotinoids (also known as neonics), used in agriculture and on garden plants are cited as a key factor in global bee die-off rates that are staggeringly high. The European Union banned the use of 3 neonics in 2013 after the European Food Safety Authority found that the pesticides pose a serious threat to bees and has continued to take steps to prevent the use of neonics in general.1
Neonics attack the central nervous system of not only bees but all insects, and can inhibit birds' ability to navigate. Science also has tied neonics to declining bird species, dramatic losses of fish populations, and birth defects in white-tailed deer. Commonly found in water supplies, food and human bodies across the country, these popular chemicals are increasingly becoming part of our daily lives. That's also of increasing concern to health professionals as new studies illuminate the serious risks that these everyday exposures may pose for people, especially children. Studies have yet to be enough in number to support the actual dangers in humans but many scientists suspect these chemicals are responsible for human problems.2
Since 2013, some progress has been made in the United State at regulating the use of some of these nerve toxins but their production and use are still not outlawed in the United States.3
Even when bees and insects are not killed by the neonics, neonics weaken bee immune systems and impair critical brain functions, making it hard for bees to find their food sources and return to the hive. EcoWatch, an environmental news service, lists the neonicotinoids found in many common products sold to consumers for home garden use and used in nurseries or retailers. Visit our website at LiSierraClub.org for the list, but among them are some innocent sounding names like "Flower, Rose & Shrub Care" and some familiar but not so innocent sounding names like "Grub-No-More".
What You Can Do:
Be aware that if a chemical kills a lower life form, it is very likely to be able to effect human health. Stop using such chemicals (including rodent killers that also kill owls, cats, birds and any rodent predator).
Don't shop at retailers that sell neonic pesticide-containing plants especially if they advertise them as "bee friendly."
If you have any neonic-containing pesticides around your house, garage or home, properly dispose of them at hazardous waste disposal centers. Do NOT flush them or pour them out in your yard.
Write a letter to the stores you find selling neonics asking them to stop selling them.
1 - https://www.science.org/content/article/european-union-expands-ban-three-neonicotinoid-pesticides
2 - https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/neonic-pesticides-pose-serious-health-risks-kids/
3 - Background: In 2015 a ban was placed on the use of neonics and GMO plants in national wildlife refuges, and some states had bans in the use of neonics. In 2018, under the Trump administration, the bans in refuges where farming is permitted were lifted leaving decisions about their use to be determined on an individual basis. https://www.newsweek.com/neonicotinoids-trump-administration-rolls-back-ban-1061906. That same year, the European Union banned the use of three of the most common neonics. Then in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States allowed the continued use of neonics saying their use should be regulated. https://cen.acs.org/environment/pesticides/Neonicotinoid-pesticides-stay-US-market/98/web/2020/02 and https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/epa-actions-protect-pollinators