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B&Q, Wickes Discontinue Pesticide Linked to Bee Decline

In a victory for Friends of the Earth’s “Bee Cause” campaign, two UK hardware retailers, B&Q and Wickes, have said they will no longer sell products containing pesticides linked to declining bee populations.

The environmental group yesterday delivered a petition with more than 64,000 signatures to Downing Street, calling on the UK government to develop a national Bee Action Plan and ban neonicotinoid chemicals linked to falling bee numbers.

According to FOE, B&Q says it will no longer stock pesticide containing the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, and Wickes says it will replace a product containing the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam later this year.

Imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin are among the three neonicotinoid chemicals identified by the European Food Safety Authority and scientists from EU member states earlier this month as posing a risk to bees. The UK Advisory Committee on Pesticides met yesterday to discuss the EFSA report.

Despite petitions by beekeepers and environmental groups, the substances remain legal in the US.

EPA acknowledges that honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a concern in the US. But is says acute pesticide poisoning of a hive is not the same as CCD.

In March 2012, a group of beekeepers and honey producers, together with Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, International Center for Technology Assessment and Pesticide Action Network of North America, petitioned the EPA to immediately suspend the use of clothianidin. The EPA declined, concluding that the petition did not show clothianidin poses an imminent hazard to bees, but is reviewing the pesticide.

Activist group Credo’s Save the Bees campaign continues to call on EPA to ban clothianidin.

EPA has been reviewing imidacloprid and its effects on bees since 2008.

Separate studies published in the journal Science in March 2012 concluded neonicotinoids threaten the health of bumblebee colonies and interfere with the homing abilities of honeybeesAt the time, a scientist for Bayer CropScience, the leading maker of neonicotinoids, cast doubt on both studies, The New York Times reports.

Today, the UK Environmental Audit Committee will question Bayer about how long neonicotinoid pesticides linger in the environment, according to FOE.

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