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EPA Receives Protests Over Plant Labeling – and Listens


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If you’ve been keeping up with current news concerning the staggering rate of bee die-offs (or viewed Blackle’s recent post on the matter), you’ll be well aware the detrimental impact of insecticides on the global bee population.

In addition to the decline of bee populations, this month’s coverage of insecticide-treated “bee friendly” plants from Home Depot and other garden centers has invoked powerful responses from environmentalists and concerned consumers alike. The insecticides used on these plants were neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides proven as harmful to pollinators and the food supply.

After months of neglecting to respond to public concern, the EPA has finally pledged to label insecticide-treated plants, so they’ll now read “this product can kill bees or other pollinators”.  In eye-catching red letters, nonetheless. Beyond informing consumers, these labels will prohibit the use of neonicotinoids and plants containing them from being used in areas where bees will receive exposure.

Key instigators in the protest against the EPA’s lack of involvement include Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Both worked incessantly to inform the public of these harmful insecticides and garner signatures for petitions. The latter organization received a near 119,00 signatures towards a petition to the EPA administrator, demanding a ban on the use of neonicotinoids.

Neonicotinoids have already been banned by the EU, for a two-year span at least. But the EPA has previously declined to take action until 2016. By which point the problem could escalate beyond the aid of bans and regulations.

This new policy is a step towards more informed purchases and will certainly show a decrease in first and second-hand exposure to neonicotinoids. However, it does not diminish the use of harmful insecticides in the United States. Hopefully further pressure from the public will inspire the EPA to take the initiative to ban these insecticides.


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