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ALDI U.S. releases new policy to limit toxic pesticides to protect pollinators

Company also expanding pollinator and people-friendly organic offerings

WASHINGTON, D.C. – ALDI U.S. has released a pollinator policy aimed at encouraging its suppliers of fruits, vegetables, live plants and flowers to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoid pesticides. The new policy encourages suppliers to limit use of non-essential pesticides and use integrated pest management strategies which support the use of least toxic alternatives. The company further states that it supports and encourages the growth of the organic industry, which in turn supports pollinator health.

“This is a step in the right direction to protect people and pollinators from toxic pesticides in ALDI U.S.’ supply chain,” said Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “We urge ALDI U.S. and other top food retailers to take the next step and do their part in addressing the pollinator crisis. Food retailers must make clear, time-bound commitments to phase out chlorpyrifos, neonicotinoids, glyphosate and other toxic pesticides throughout their entire food supply chains and further expand their organic offerings with a focus on supporting domestic growers.”

This announcement follows a multi-year campaign led by Friends of the Earth and allies urging ALDI U.S. and other leading retailers to commit to protecting pollinators and human health by phasing out toxic pesticides and increasing organic offerings with a focus on domestic producers.

The campaign aims to address devastating losses in pollinator populations linked to agricultural pesticide use. The first meta-analysis of global insect declines found that 40% of insect species could face extinction in coming decades, leading the authors to warn of “catastrophic ecosystem collapse” if we don’t change the way we farm. And a recent global scientific assessment warns that the ecological crisis of biodiversity loss is on par with the climate crisis.

Yet pesticide reduction — to protect pollinators, people and the environment — lags far behind other sustainability and social responsibility efforts in the food retail sector. While over two thirds of the top 25 U.S. food retailers have sustainability policies related to energy and climate, ALDI US is now just the third to have a pesticide-related policy, following Costco (NASDAQ: COST) and Kroger (NYSE: KR).

Food retailers face both reputational and supply chain risks for failing to address the overuse of agricultural pesticides in their supply chains. Bees and other pollinators are essential to the production of one-out-of-three bites of food we eat. Without pollinators, grocery stores would run short of some of our most important and nutritious foods, including nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy, juices and more.

A recent peer-reviewed study co-authored by Friends of the Earth shows that U.S. agriculture has become 48 times more toxic to bees and other insects since the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides 25 years ago. The European Union has banned all outdoor uses of the top four neonicotinoids based on science showing harm to bees, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has failed to act. The ALDI policy specifically calls out neonicotinoids.

Chlorpyrifos, also addressed in ALDI’s policy, is an organophosphate pesticide that is highly toxic to bees and could jeopardize the existence of over 1,200 endangered species. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was set to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos based on the science associating exposure with autism spectrum disorder, reduced IQ, Parkinson’s and other neurological problems, but the Trump Administration reversed that decision against the findings of the agency’s scientists. In the absence of federal action, California, Hawaii and New York have banned chlorpyrifos. 

Friends of the Earth’s campaign also targets glyphosate, which is the world’s most widely-used weed killer. Glyphosate is a leading driver of monarch butterfly declines and is associated with toxicity to honey bees. It is also identified as a probable carcinogen. More than 18,000 people are suing Bayer-Monsanto for glyphosate’s contribution to their cancer, and juries have awarded more than $2 billion in damages to date.

Expert contact: Kendra Klein, PhD (415) 350-5957, kklein@foe.org
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

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