Major global big box retailer Costco has recently called on their suppliers to limit non-essential pesticides in products to be sold on its store shelves, specifically discouraging the use of neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides known to be exceptionally harmful to bees and other critical pollinator insects.
With 705 stores worldwide and annual sales nearing $120 billion, the retail chain is a prime position to lead a major movement against the use of these harmful chemicals, which is vital today, given that bee populations are in serious decline and a North American bee has just been officially added to the endangered species.
In a 2016 policy release entitled “Costco Wholesale’s Live Goods Policy To Protect Pollinator Health,” Costco made the following statement:
“Costco Wholesale understands that the honey bee population is declining and these bees are necessary for the life cycles of people, plants and the food we consume. We have invested in a multi-year research project to improve honey bee health and sustainability and are committed to following the continuing research, developments surrounding bee colony collapse and other areas of environmental concern. We are also committed to business practices that support the growth and sustainability of bees and other pollinators.” [Source]
Furthermore, the policy outlines three significant demands of their suppliers of live plants:
- Suppliers are encouraged to limit the use of all non-essential chemicals and to utilize eco-friendly methods of pest or disease control when treating plants produced for Costco.
- Application of any chemicals is to be done in strict accordance with all applicable local and federal laws, regulations and guidelines in effect at the location of production and intended distribution. It is the supplier’s responsibility to remain informed and up to date on all applicable laws and regulations.
- The use of neonicotinoids is discouraged on plants where bees are reasonably considered to be primary pollinators or on plants known to attract bees, unless mandated otherwise by law.
The policy follows on the heel of an announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “mitigate the acute risks to bees from pesticide products.” Environmental activist organization Friends of the Earth is also playing a role in this effort by urging more retailers to follow suit in this endeavor, as well as praising Costco for beginning this important market-driven initiative.
“Costco’s decision to limit these bee-killing pesticides on garden plants and increase its selection of organic products demonstrates it is listening to its customers and taking into account the most up-to-date sound science,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S. “However, we know that Costco and other retailers can do even more to protect bees. We urge Costco and other leading food retailers to phase-out pollinator toxic pesticides in its food supply chain to address the bee crisis.” [Source]
The EPA’s new policy, however, falls short of demanding an outright end to the use of harmful neonics, whereas Health Canada has proposed a ban on nearly all use of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, suggesting that the U.S. still has a long way to go in fully recognizing the severity of the crisis facing pollinator insects.
Last year Costco announced an effort to offer to offer a wider range of organic products to their customers, demonstrating their commitment to fairly responding to the wishes of their customers in support of a broader movement towards chemical-free foods. This, combined with the recently announced request for suppliers to limit usage of these products, signals a sea change in how the global retail industry will see to it that consumer convenience isn’t at odds with a healthy and sustainable environment.
Global populations of bees have been in shocking decline for the last 8-10 years. In 2014, rates of dead bees nearly tripled, and up to 40% of U.S. commercial colonies disappeared. If this trend continues, the world’s food supply will be severely impacted.
Read more articles by Vic Bishop.
About the Author
Vic Bishop is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and OffgridOutpost.com Survival Tips blog. He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.
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