Florida beekeepers have said for years that the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids are a major factor in bee colony losses, including losses attributed to colony collapse disorder
Now they’ve gained a friend as Ortho, the nation’s leading brand of insect control products for lawn and garden use, said Tuesday it would immediately begin to transition away from neonicotinoids for outdoor use.
It also announced a new partnership with the Pollinator Stewardship Council, a pollinator advocacy group and supporter of more than 550 beekeepers in the U.S., to help educate homeowners on the safe and appropriate use of pesticides.
Earlier this spring, Ortho expanded its selection of non-neonic based garden solutions. Building on this process, the brand will eliminate the use of neonic active ingredients Imidacloprid, Clothianidin and Dinotefuran by 2017.
“This decision comes after careful consideration regarding the range of possible threats to honey bees and other pollinators,” said Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho brand.
“While agencies in the United States are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on. As the category leader, it is our responsibility to provide consumers with effective solutions that they know are safe for their family and the environment when used as directed,” Martin said. ” We encourage other companies and brands in the consumer pest control category to follow our lead.”
“We applaud the Ortho brand and Scotts Miracle-Gro for the steps that they’re taking to protect pollinators,” said Michele Colopy, program director of the Pollinator Stewardship Council. “Bees and butterflies are essential to our ecosystem and are increasingly facing a struggle to survive. We know gardeners value the importance of pollinators and we look forward to developing programs that help accomplish our shared goal to protect them. We join Ortho in asking other consumer pest control brands to also transition away from the use of neonics.”
Miracle-Gro’s announcement comes just days after the state of Maryland passed a bill to ban the use of neonics in the state.
Larissa Walker, Center for Food Safety’s pollinator program director, said, “This is a much needed win for bees and other pollinators. Research continues to point to neonics as a prime culprit in bee population losses and poor colony health. We are glad to see that Ortho is moving away from using these bee-toxic chemicals, and we hope that other garden and nursery companies will follow suit.”
In January the Center for Food Safety, on beehalf of beekeepers, farmer and pubic interest groups, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failure to adequately regulate neonicotinoid seed coatings on dozens of crops.
A decade ago, beekeepers in Florida and other states began reporting that bees were disappearing from their hives. A variety of factors have been blamed, including viruses and parasites. A recent Harvard University study identified neonicotioids “as likely the main culprit.”