Lowe's to stop selling products containing neonics

The retailer will phase them out over the next four years.

April 13, 2015

Lowe's has announced plans to stop selling products that contain neonicotinoid pesticides, phasing them out over the next four years.

The national home improvement store chain made the announcement Thursday as part of the release of its 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report. The report provides a review of the company's sustainability objectives and progress during the past year. The 2014 CSR report can be viewed on Lowe's website.

Citing studies that say many factors, including neonicotinoid pesticides, could potentially damage the health of pollinators, Lowe's will phase out the sale of products that contain neonic pesticides within 48 months as suitable alternatives become commercially available.

Lowe's statement prompted an immediate response from AmericanHort, the Horticultural Research Institute, the Society of American Florists, and the American Floral Endowment -- organizations made up of professional horticulturists.

"Although the improper use of pesticides can harm bees, a growing number of credible independent studies indicate that neonicotinoids, when used as directed, are not the cause of widespread bee health issues," the organizations' joint statement reads. "Consumers want plants that are healthy, beautiful and pest-free, and neonicotinoids have proven to be among the most effective pest management tools available. Neonicotinoids also are among the safest products we have for both our employees and the environment."

The grower organizations said they were surprised by Lowe’s position, and cited the most recent and positive reports on the state of honeybee health (NASS honey report) and recent peer reviewed research.

The retailer's announcement comes after the EPA said last week that it would stop issuing new permits to use the pesticides.

According to the CSR report, Lowe's plans to work with growers to eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants it sells and educate customers and employees through in-store and online resources.

Home Depot announced last summer that it would label plants treated with neonicotinoids. Both companies have been the target of protests by environmental activists.