WASHINGTON, April 9, 2015—Lowe’s announced it will phase out the sale of products containing neonicotinoid pesticides as part of its corporate responsibility commitments for this year.

In its 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Report released Thursday, the home improvement chain said it plans to stop selling neonics—a class of pesticide used on turf and ornamental products as well as a corn and soybean seeds—within 48 months as suitable alternatives become commercially available.

“Lowe’s will include greater organic and non-neonic product selections, work with growers to eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants it sells and educate customers and employees through in-store and online resources,” according to the announcement.

The company said it made the commitment “following studies that say many factors, including neonicotinoid pesticides, could potentially damage the health of pollinators.”

The number of honeybee colonies in the U.S. dropped from about 4 million in the 1970s to about 2.5 million now, according to some estimates.

Bee losses are attributed to multiple factors, including the damaging effects of the varroa mite, the loss of forage and nutrition, as well as pesticide use.

[Watching for stories about bee health? Sign up for an Agri-Pulse four-week free trial subscription to stay on top of this and other ag, rural policy and energy issues.] 
Environmental groups are putting pressure on the EPA to rein in agricultural chemical companies on the production and use of neonicotinoids. However, Syngenta, Bayer and Valent U.S.A. commissioned a study from AgInfomatics, which says that if neonicotinoids are banned, growers and horticulturalists will turn to older, more toxic chemicals that must be applied more heavily.


For more news, go to www.agri-pulse.com