California Considers Plant Warning Labels as Walmart & True Value Commit to Phasing Out Bee-Killing Pesticides

Pesticide Action Network North America  For Immediate Release May 3, 2017

Facing pressure from the pesticide lobby, California’s Pollinator Protection Act (SB 602) would create consistent and clear labels for seeds and plants pre-treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.

Sacramento, CA – As California considers legislation that would provide labels for seeds and plants that are pre-treated or pre-coated with bee-harming pesticides, two major retailers — True Value and Walmart — announced steps today to phase out the use of the products in their supply chain.  

“Despite pressure from the pesticide industry, gardeners and retailers are responding to the science. As two more major retailers commit to phasing out neonicotinoid pesticides on plants they sell, California legislators have an opportunity to create clear and consistent labels to allow consumers to purchase plants that are better for bees,” said Paul Towers, organizing director and policy advocate at PAN.  

California’s Pollinator Protection Act (Senate Bill 602, Allen-Wiener) would require mandatory labeling for any seed or plant that has been pre-coated or pre-treated with neonicotinoids, or “neonics.” But the legislation has faced significant opposition from pesticide manufacturers, and some industrial agricultural interest groups, that challenge both the science behind bee declines and the preponderance of evidence linking pollinator die-offs to pesticide exposure, among other factors.  

“It is great to see well-known retailers taking action to phase out products that include these harmful pesticides. I look forward to the passage of SB 602 so that California can enact a similar policy statewide,” said Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), a lead author of the bill, which is sponsored by Bee Smart California, a coalition of beekeepers, farmers, food and environmental organizations dedicated to protecting bees and other pollinators.  

Testing analyses conducted by PAN North America, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety and the Pesticide Research Institute in 20132014 and 2016demonstrated the presence of bee-toxic neonics in more than half of bee-attractive flowers tested. The 2016 analysis found that 23 percent of flowers and trees tested nationally — and 15 percent tested in California — contain neonicotinoid insecticides at levels that can harm or kill bees. And all of the nursery plant samples where neonics were detected had the potential to harm or even kill bees.  

Large retailers Home Depot and Lowe's already made commitments to phase out use of these pesticides, and have also started to provide some form of labeling. Last year’s data demonstrated that these two companies are making progress toward that goal. With today’s news, True Value will phase out neonics on plants and products by 2018 and Walmart has already removed neonics from 80 percent of their flowering plants and nearly all of their products. 

“The actions taken by these national retailers show that there is broadening support for reducing and eliminating use of these awful pesticides. We need to continue to work to prevent the rapid and unprecedented collapse of bee colonies, which is threatening food security in the entire country, by enacting policies like SB 602,” said Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), co-author of the bill.    

Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey found 74 percent of growers who supply mass merchants and home improvement chains said they would not use neonicotinoid insecticides in 2016. 

“With today’s announcement, fewer nurseries and garden stores are selling plants pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides,” said Terry Oxford, a beekeeper with UrbanBeeSF. “Yet it’s still not possible for gardeners and landscapers to be sure that the seeds, plants and trees they select at the store will be safe for bees and other pollinators. Labels would provide that level of security. California legislators should support SB 602.”  

Bees and other pollinators, essential for every one in three bites of food we eat, are in great peril. The United Nations estimates that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species, including bees and butterflies, are on the brink of extinction. Research indicates that bee-harming neonicotinoids are a primary factor of declining populations. These insecticides have been responsible for several high profile bee kills from high doses of the pesticides, and a strong and growing body of science shows that neonics contribute to bees’ impaired reproduction, learning and memory, hive communications and immune response at doses far below those that are lethal.   

Contact: Paul Towers, PAN, 916-216-1082, sends e-mail)

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America works to create a just, thriving food system. For too long, pesticide and biotech corporations have dictated how we grow food, placing the health and economic burdens of pesticide use on farmers, farmworkers and rural communities. PAN works with those on the frontlines to tackle the pesticide problem — and reclaim the future of food and farming.

A Win for Bees

Pesticide Action Network -  North America    By Paul Towers   November 27, 2015

The California State Beekeepers Association was buzzing about pesticides at their annual convention in Sacramento last week. And with good reason.

Just days before, EPA took the rare step of banning a bee-toxic insecticide. For an agency that has been really slow to take meaningful bee-protective action, dragging out both scientific analysis and much needed policy shifts, this was a very welcome move.

The agency's decision to pull sulfoxaflor — manufactured by Dow — was largely a response to litigation brought on by beekeepers. And the courts ruled EPA had relied on "flawed and limited data" to approve the pesticide's registration in the first place, citing the “precariousness of bee populations.

A close cousin to neonicotinoid pesticides, sulfoxaflor is pervasive in treated crops and acts on the same receptors in bee brains. It was also one more in the line of new bee-toxic chemicals that EPA and manufacturers have been hustling toward approval.

Pulling sulfoxaflor off the market will mean the product can no longer be applied to nuts, fruits and vegetables around the country — some of the very crops that rely on bees for pollination. While EPA missed an important opportunity to stop the export of this troublesome pesticide, it's still a clear win for bees and beekeepers in the U.S.

Focus on the pesticide problem:

Despite federal officials moving slowly to address the wider spectrum of bee-harming pesticides, beekeepers are keeping the pressure on. Darren Cox, a commercial beekeeper from Utah and president of the American Honey Producers Association, highlighted the priority and urgency of the pesticide problem at the California convention:

"Our beekeeper members have made it clear that pesticides are their number one issue of concern. Despite efforts to blame mites or the practices of beekeepers, the reality is that widespread pesticide use, particularly systemic pesticides, poses a significant threat to our livelihood."

And that may be why remarks from state officials at the same convention didn’t land very well. One representative from the CA Department of Food and Agriculture, in speaking to convention-goers, placed virtually all responsibility on beekeepers; she encouraged them to register all their hives with local and state officials so they would have a record of hive locations. And she told beekeepers to pick up and move bee operations when they encounter a potential threat from nearby pesticide applications — a wholly unrealistic option.

These approaches simply ignore the reality of lingering residues in crops, soil and water — not to mention threats to native bees and other pollinators that can't be moved. More importantly, they let pesticide manufacturers like Bayer off the hook; these corporations should be held accountable for the impact of their pesticide products. 

These approaches simply ignore the reality of lingering residues in crops, soil and water — not to mention threats to native bees and other pollinators that can't be moved. More importantly, they let pesticide manufacturers like Bayer off the hook; these corporations should be held accountable for the impact of their pesticide products.

Scientists also spoke up at the conference, cutting through it all. Judy Wu, a researcher with the University of Minnesota Bee Lab, focused her talk on the harmful impacts of neonicotinoids on queen bees. She summed up the situation like this:

“Science has to be narrowly focused, but policy needs to address the bigger picture — an overuse and dependency on pesticides.”

EPA took a good step by halting use of sulfoxaflor, but it shouldn't have been approved in the first place. And there is clearly more work to be done to protect bees, beekeepers and sustain our agricultural economy.

Read at:

Broad Coalition Uses Full Pags Ads - Awareness on Pollination Declines

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.) 

Broad Coalition focuses Awareness on Pollinator Declines

December 2, 2013--Today, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network, supported by Ceres Trust and joined by more than 60 other organizations, launched a national media campaign to bring attention to the severity of pollinator declines due in part to the use of bee-harming pesticides. The campaign launch was timed to coincide with the beginning of the European Union’s two-year moratorium on three of the most potent neonicotinoids, which began yesterday. A copy of the ad is available at

As part of the national media campaign, full page ads were released in seven newspapers today, including the New York Times, citing the urgency and impact of bee declines and encouraging the public to call on EPA to take action.

“We hope this national media campaign will spur public action to combat this major threat to the environment and to our food system. We must protect bees and other pollinators from these harmful pesticides that EPA has so far failed to safeguard them from,” said Larissa Walker, policy and campaign coordinator for Center for Food Safety.

Never before has such a broad coalition of organizations come together to support pollinator protection. The breadth of the coalition highlights the importance of pollinators to so many, including beekeepers, farmers, policy makers, faith groups, consumer groups and anyone who eats food.

"Protecting bees and pollinators is an urgent matter that must bring our nation together to balance our need for a bountiful food production system and a sustainable environment," said Jay Feldman, executive director for Beyond Pesticides.

One in every three bites of food depends on bees for pollination, and the annual value of pollination services worldwide are valued at over $125 billion. In the United States alone, pollination contributes $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually.

"Honey bees play a crucial role in pollinating the world's food crops," said Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and chairman of Stonyfield, and one of the ad signatories. "So protecting bees from pesticides is not only good for bees, but also for business; the loss of honey bees is a direct threat to the ability of farmers and food companies to deliver diverse, nutritional foods."

In recent years, a number of scientific studies have linked bee declines to pesticide use. In particular, a class of systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids have been found to harm bees — both alone and in combination with other pesticides. Neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” are often used as seed treatments and sprays on a variety of crops and ornamental plants. Even though several countries, including the entire European Union, have taken action to restrict the use of neonicotinoids, the U.S. still allows their widespread use.

“Beekeepers are losing colonies at an unprecedented rate – the losses are too extreme to keep up with, and our entire industry is at risk of collapse unless federal action is taken. Convening conferences and changing pesticide labels is lip service and window dressing to the issue, but has no substance,” said New York beekeeper Jim Doan.

Today’s ad not only brings attention to this growing issue, but leads readers to the Save-The-Bees website where they can take further action, such as supporting current legislation in Congress, contacting EPA or planting pollinator habitat in their own communities.

“The EU reviewed hundreds of scientific studies and concluded that a two year moratorium was a necessary first step. The U.S. has failed to even come close to that standard, ” said Emily Marquez, PhD, staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network. “EPA should follow the science and take action to protect bees from harmful pesticides.”

Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides, and Pesticide Action Network are coordinating efforts to reverse the troubling trend of pollinator decline through legal, policy and grassroots efforts.

The ad also appeared in the Boston Globe, the Washington PostPoliticoMinneapolis Star Tribune, the Des Moines Register and the Los Angeles Times.


Beyond Pesticides, founded in 1981, works with allies in protecting public health and the environment by identifying the hazards of chemical-intensive land, building and community management practices and promoting healthy, sustainable and organic systems. More information can be found at

Center for Food Safety is a national, non-profit, membership organization founded in 1997 to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS maintains offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. More information can be found

The Ceres Trust, whose name honors the ancient goddess of agriculture, provides grants that support: research in organic agriculture at universities and to graduate students; education to create careers in the production and processing of certified organic food; programs to eliminate pesticide exposure and GMO contamination; and efforts to preserve crop biodiversity and public access to seeds.

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America works to replace hazardous pesticide use with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. As one of five PAN Regional Centers worldwide, we link local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens' action network. This network challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health and environmental quality, and works to insure the transition to a just and viable society. More information can be found at


The following is from Paul Towers (Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America): 

As you know, bees are in trouble. And so is the diversity of our food system if we don't do something to protect bees that pollinate our nation's crops. Yesterday marked the first day of a 2-year moratorium on bee-harming pesticides in Europe. But US EPA has been slow to do the same.

So we're ratcheting up the pressure on EPA. Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety and PAN, with support from the Ceres Trust and a broad coalition of supporters, are calling on the agency to follow Europe's lead with a full-page an advertisement today in seven major newspapers across the country, including the New York Times. And we need your help to spread the word to people all across the country.
Here's my blog that explains it a bit more:

And here are some simple steps you can take:

(1) Visit Please sign the petition to urge EPA to take action. It's easy and important. 
(2) Add your group to the list of supporters. Please email me back if your organization or business would like to be added to the supporter list for Let's grow an even bigger and broader coalition of folks demanding action from EPA.
                                                                                             Thanks for your support!


Congress, Pull bee-toxic pesticides off the market

Pesticide Action Network  1/17/13

Good news! Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have introduced the "Save America's Pollinators Act," a bill that will require EPA to pull bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides from the market until their safety is proven.

Urge your Representative to support this critical bill.

Scientists tell us that "neonics" are a key contributing factor to dramatic bee die-offs. Yet these insecticides continue to be widely used, and EPA won't take action until after its review is complete in 2018. Meanwhile bees continue dying off in droves, with beekeepers reporting losses between 40-70% this year.

The Save America's Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692) would suspend use of neonicotinoid pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence — and field studies — demonstrate no harmful impacts to pollinators. This is the fighting chance our honey bees need.

Contact your Representative now!