Pesticides linked to bee decline discovered in “pollinator friendly” garden plants

Retailers urged to act to ensure "pollinator friendly” garden plants are free from bee harming pesticides ahead of the Great British Bee Count
  Published:  13 May 2017    |      2 minute read

Garden centres and retailers are being urged to take urgent action after new research, revealed today [1], found some outlets were selling garden plants grown with pesticides linked to bee decline – including plants carrying ‘pollinator friendly’ labels.

Thousands of people have already taken part in a Friends of the Earth online action launched earlier this week, calling on Homebase and Wyevale to ensure their plants are free from neonicotinoids linked to bee decline.

The action was launched after B&Q announced [3] it was to ban neonicotinoid pesticides from all its flowering plants from next year.

Next week Friends of the Earth launches its Great British Bee Count (19 May-30 June), which enables people to find out more about the bees that visit their neighbourhoods and to take action to help these under-threat pollinators – such as creating bee-friendly gardens and other spaces.

The research on neonicotinoids and plants, the first of its kind to be carried out in the UK, was led by leading bee expert Professor Dave Goulson. Of 29 plants examined at Sussex University, over 70% contained neonicotinoid pesticides – including three pesticides restricted across Europe that have been found to pose a ‘high acute risk’ to honeybees.

Today’s article says “the report concludes: ‘All of the retailers we tested were selling plants containing highly variable combinations of potentially harmful chemicals, so that any purchaser is playing “Russian roulette” with their garden pollinators.’ “

Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Nick Rau said:

“Green-minded gardeners will be understandably concerned that some stores and garden centres are selling plants treated with pesticides linked to bee decline - including some plants that are labelled as ‘pollinator friendly’.

“Retailers should urgently investigate their supply chains and make it clear to growers that they don’t want these chemicals in their plants.

“Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count, which begins next week, is urging people to create wildlife-friendly gardens and other spaces to help our under-threat bees. Ask your retailer if their plants have been grown without bee-harming pesticides - if in doubt choose organic plants or grow them from seed.”


For more information contact Neil Verlander, Friends of the Earth on 0207 566 1674/ 07712 843 209 or contact the Friends of the Earth press office on 020 7566 1649 or 07718 394786 (out of hours – please do not text), [email protected]

Notes to editors:

  1. An EU-wide moratorium, which came into force in December 2013, restricts the use of three neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, on flowering crops. It was introduced after a report by scientists at the European Food Safety Authority concluded that they posed a "high acute risk" to honey bees. The ban does not cover all neonicotinoid pesticides or all crops, such as wheat.

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.