Lowe's is saying so long to a class of pesticides that may be contributing to our dwindling honeybee population. The home improvement chain said yesterday it will phase out pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics; they'll be completely gone from store shelves and absent from plants the store sells by early 2019. Critics of the pesticides say they can be harmful or even fatal to honeybees, which pollinate plants that yield a quarter of the food we eat, Reuters reports. On Thursday, a report from the European Academies Science Advisory Council, described in the New York Times, noted the use of neonics "has severe effects on a range of organisms that provide ecosystem services like pollination and natural pest control"—including ladybugs, wasps, and earthworms.
The Globe and Mail reports Lowe's decision to eliminate the pesticides was made "out of an abundance of caution" and "doesn't imply that there is anything wrong or unsafe with our current products." Home Depot and BJ's Wholesale Club have asked suppliers to label plants containing neonics. A rep for major neonics producer Bayer CropScience says neonics "can be used safely if they're used according to the label." Last week, NBC News reported the EPA announced it will stop issuing new permits granting the use neonics "until the data on pollinator health have been received and appropriate risk assessments completed." (Read more honeybees stories.)