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PNS Daily Newscast - April 19, 2018 


A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus power out for much of Puerto Rico; and some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

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Study: Retailers Switching to "Bee-Friendly" Plants

A new study indicates more retailers are selling plants that are bee-friendly, allowing home gardeners to plant flowers that aren't toxic to honeybees. (Kapa65/Pixabay)
A new study indicates more retailers are selling plants that are bee-friendly, allowing home gardeners to plant flowers that aren't toxic to honeybees. (Kapa65/Pixabay)
August 18, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS — New tests found significant decreases in the use of bee-killing pesticides on "bee-friendly" plants. That’s good news for bees.

Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute took samples of plants in 13 U.S. cities and compared them to samples taken in 2013 and 2014. They were looking for neonicotinoid insecticides in plants often sold to gardeners and home owners.

In the previous tests, half of the plants tested positive for the toxins. This time, only 23 percent did. Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said retailers are starting to sell "bee-friendly" plants.

"Almost 70 retailers across the U.S. have made commitments to stop selling plants - and in some cases, products - that contain bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides,” Finck-Haynes said. “And so that's what's really shifting the entire garden industry.”

Bee populations have been dwindling across the nation. A Purdue University study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed what many environmental groups have been saying: the massive beehive die-offs known as "colony collapse disorder" are linked, in part, to factory farms and pesticide use; and plants pre-treated with neonicotinoids pass the toxins on to bees.

Bee losses have to stop, Finck-Haynes said. But some retailers are still selling plants pre-treated with pesticides. She said she hopes consumers will put pressure on those companies.

"Over 50 percent of Americans are more likely to shop at a Lowe's or a Home Depot because they've made that commitment to stop selling these bee-killing pesticides,” Finck-Haynes said. "So, this really demonstrates to Walmart, Ace and True Value that they could potentially lose their customers if they don't make these formal commitments.”

More than 100 businesses, cities, universities, states and countries have restricted use of pesticides that are lethal to bees. According to a survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine, nearly three-quarters of growers who supply mass merchants and home-improvement chains said they will not use neonicotinoids this year.

A list of retailer's and grower's policies on pesticide use is available here.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN