Letters to retailers
Having found products on their shelves containing neonicotinoids, in late May we wrote to the Chief Executives of B&Q, Wilkinson, Wickes and Wyevale to bring this to their attention, and ask them to consider withdrawing the products. If you wish to contact any retailer, some of the text below maybe useful. Once we receive replies we will also post them on this page.
Text of letter
RE: The decline of the honeybee and household pesticides
You may be aware that in recent years there has been a large-scale global decline in the health and size of bee populations, especially honeybees. Indeed in the winter of 2008 it was widely reported that up to a third of the UK honey bee population perished.
There may be no single reason why bee populations are declining so dramatically and clearly more research is needed into this matter. However, one of the major causes is undoubtedly the spread of industrial scale farming – which has meant both a decrease in areas of wild flowers and other bee-friendly sites, and an also dramatic increase in the use of insecticides.
In particular, a new group of insecticides called neonicotinoids were first used in agriculture in the mid 1990s – exactly the time when colony collapse seems to have started. The evidence that these chemicals may have a link to colony collapse is powerful, which is why they have been withdrawn in several European countries (France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia). However, the UK government has not yet followed suit.
The Soil Association is obviously keen that something is done about the decline in bee numbers, which is why we have been asking for the Government to withdraw the use of neonicotinoids in agriculture – over 20,000 people have signed our petition supporting our call.
However, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides is not confined to agriculture – this class of insecticide is also found in domestic gardening products such as fly sprays and bug guns –insecticides based on the active ingredients acetamiprid, imidacloprid, thiacloprid or thiamethoxam are all neonicotinoid class pesticides. Some of these are available for sale on the shelves of your own stores.
With this in mind we are respectfully asking you to consider withdrawing these chemicals from sale. We believe this action would allow you to use your market size and power to take a positive step to protecting the UK’s bee populations. We also believe your customers would react positively, given the concern in the public for the plight of the bees, and indeed this may present you with a positive marketing opportunity. And of course our bees would thank you too.
For our part we have written to your competitors who stock similar products, and publicised the issue of neonciotinoids in domestic products to our members in our membership magazine Living Earth and asking readers to avoid this type of product. We’d be more than happy to meet with you to discuss this further, or provide more information on this subject if necessary.
We do hope you will consider this request seriously, and that ultimately you will take action to withdraw the sale of neonicotinoids. We look forward to your response.