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Lawn care firm Scotts to stop using neonicotinoids

Concerns about honeybee health prompts firm to reformulate consumer products

by Melody M. Bomgardner
April 14, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 16

Credit: Scotts Miracle-Gro
This image shows a large sprayer bottle of Ortho lawn and garden pesticide.
Credit: Scotts Miracle-Gro

Consumer lawn and garden care company Scotts Miracle-Gro says it will stop using neonicotinoid-based pesticides in its Ortho brand products because of concerns over honeybee health. It will remove imidacloprid, clothianidin, and dinotefuran from its offerings by 2017.

“This decision comes after careful consideration regarding the range of possible threats to honeybees and other pollinators,” says Tim Martin, general manager of Ortho. “While agencies in the U.S. are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on.”

EPA is conducting risk assessments of the pesticides and has temporarily stopped granting new permits for their use.

Neonicotinoid pesticides were developed by Bayer in 1985 and promoted for their species specificity, relatively low toxicity, and effectiveness in small quantities. But concerns about colony collapses among honeybees and other pollinators have prompted researchers to study unintended effects on nonpest species. Bayer and other manufacturers defend the pesticides’ safety and use.

A year ago, the retail chain Lowe’s said it would phase out products containing neonicotinoids. Last month, Maryland passed a bill banning consumers from purchasing the pesticides. Scotts says it is working with the Pollinator Stewardship Council, an advocacy group, to encourage the government to allow labeling of non-neonicotinoid products.

Honeybee advocates hailed the announcement. “We are glad to see that Ortho is moving away from using these bee-toxic chemicals, and we hope that other garden and nursery companies will follow suit,” says Larissa Walker, pollinator program director at the Center for Food Safety.


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