In light of the potential dangers a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids have on bee populations, pest-control company Ortho recently announced that it will be transitioning away from the chemicals in order to protect the world’s pollinators. Ortho plans to phase out the use of neonicotinoids by 2021 in 8 of its pesticide products.
Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho brand, says:
“This decision comes after careful consideration regarding the range of possible threats to honeybees and other pollinators. While agencies in the United States are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on.”
We encourage other companies and brands in the consumer pest control category to follow our lead,” he said.
Martin said Ortho hopes to reassure customers that “Ortho’s got their back, taking care of whatever they need controlled in the most responsible manner,” he told the AP.
“Bees and butterflies are essential to our ecosystem and are increasingly facing a struggle to survive. We join Ortho in asking other consumer pest-control brands to also transition away from the use of neonics,” Michele Colopy, program director of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, said in a statement
Ortho is a division of Marysville, Ohio-based Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.
The announcement comes on the heels of other actions taken by companies and states. Aldi Süd, a German supermarket chain with stores in the U.S., has already announced a ban in Europe, taking action against neonics such as neonicotinoids imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in France recently approved plans to totally ban the bee-killing chemicals, going above and beyond European Union (EU) restrictions.
Maryland in the U.S. has nearly become the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale of neonicotinoids.
Neonics Linked to the Bee-Decline
It is becoming a well-known fact that bee colonies are declining across the U.S. and the world. Although other factors come into play such as disease, mites, and poor nutrition, the use of neonicotinoid-pesticides is believed to be a contributing factor that we can better control.
According to an annual survey conducted by a bee partnership that includes the US Department of Agriculture, beekeepers reported losing about 42% of their honeybee colonies across the country since April 2014, the second-highest rate in 9 years.
This is a highly significant when you consider the fact that cross-pollination helps at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of our wild plants to thrive. 2 Without bees, our food system would take a significant hit.
“What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” said Keith Delaplane at the University of Georgia, who co-authored a study on the bee decline. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”
Pesticide makers and top manufacturers of neonicotinoids, such as Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta, argue the research exaggerates the impact these chemicals have on bees. But beekeepers are convinced that the chemicals are a real problem.
“I can’t keep them alive no matter what I do,” said Steve McDaniel, who owns a honey farm in Manchester, Md., to the Washington Post. “The trouble is they started selling these pesticides to homeowners. They put these things on flowers that bloom within a mile of the beehive. No one can offer me a reasonable explanation of any other cause for what I’ve been seeing.”