Giant Friends of the Earth bees visited a Homebase store in Wandsworth yesterday (Monday 13 November) to hand in a petition from over 18,000 people urging the store not to sell flowering plants grown with 3 neonicotinoid pesticides linked to bee decline. The pesticides are currently restricted throughout Europe on crops attractive to bees.
Last week the UK government announced  that it will back tougher restrictions on these bee-harming chemicals.
In August this year Friends of the Earth revealed  that 9 of the top 10 leading garden centres and retailers don’t want suppliers to use the chemicals – but Homebase has yet to commit to working with suppliers to end the use of these chemicals.
Earlier this year research by leading bee scientist Professor Dave Goulson revealed that 70% of the plants tested from a number of stores contained neonicotinoid pesticides – including three pesticides restricted across Europe that have been found to pose a ‘high acute risk’ to honeybees . Plants bought at Homebase were amongst those which tested positive for the restricted pesticides.
Over 18,000 people have so far contacted Homebase, via a Friends of the Earth online action, urging the store to act on neonicotinoids , but they have yet to receive a reply.
A Friends of the Earth YouGov poll published in May 2017 found that over three quarters of the British public (78%) agree that garden centres and retailers should not sell plants grown with pesticides that are harmful to bees .
The environmental organisation is also urging the Royal Horticultural Society [RHS] to call on suppliers not to use the three restricted neonicotinoid chemicals. Its ‘perfect for pollinators’ list of recommended plants doesn’t currently prohibit the use of these bee harming pesticides. The RHS says it is speaking to the trade about Professor Goulson’s research  and “will provide an update once we have decided the most appropriate action”.
Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Dr Nick Rau said:
“Earlier this year nine of the leading top 10 garden retailers said they have told suppliers not to use restricted neonicotinoid pesticides on their flowering plants – but Homebase has yet to follow suit.
“There is huge public enthusiasm for creating bee-friendly spaces, and they may understandably be concerned about buying plants grown with neonicotinoids.
“Now that the UK government is backing tougher restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides, we hope Homebase will listen to public opinion and growing scientific evidence, and take action too.”
Commenting on the Royal Horticultural Society and neonicotinoid pesticides, Dr Rau said:
“We’re pleased the RHS is reviewing its advice on this issue, we hope it will back efforts to keep neonics out of our gardens plants too.”
Notes to editors:
1. Michael Gove says the UK supports further restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids due to their effects on bees and other pollinators.
2. Top garden retailers say no to bee-harming neonicotinoids.
3. Ornamental plants on sale to the public are a significant source of pesticide residues with implications for the health of pollinating insects:
4. Over 18,000 people have taken part in a Friends of the Earth online action ask Homebase and Wyevale to act on neonicotinoid pesticides.
5. 3/4 Brits agree garden centres should not sell plants grown with bee-harming pesticides.
6. RHS statement on pesticides in horticulture.