WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2015 - Weaver Popcorn, the second-largest popcorn supplier, announced a plan to drastically reduce the amount of neonicotinoids involved in the production of the popcorn it sells.

The move, announced on the Pop Weaver website last week, comes after pressure from food safety groups to ditch neonics, insecticide seed coatings that have no human health risk but have been implicated in pollinator health issues. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) says this is the first time a U.S. food company has committed to phasing out neonics.

The plan is to cut use of neonics by 50 percent in 2016 and by 75 percent in 2017. The company said it also has a long-term commitment to further reduce usage by working with universities and companies that supply neonics to the seed industry.

“With a large share of the market, Pop Weaver has the ability to not only become leaders in pollinator protection but to also influence their competitors in the popcorn seed market to do the same,” said Larissa Walker, pollinator program director at CFS.

CFS and some researchers contend that neonics are to blame for drops in the bee population, saying the seed coating eventually makes the entire plant “toxic.” According to a CFS release, between 79 percent and 100 percent of corn seed in the U.S. has a neonic coating, “and popcorn is no exception.”

According to the Popcorn Board, a promotional and research organization, sales of unpopped U.S. popcorn topped 1 billion pounds for the first time in 2013. Major production states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio.


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