Billboard at Kroger HQ Demands Retailer Eliminate Bee-killing Pesticides Used to Grow Food it Sells

Environmental and consumer groups urge Kroger to save bees and other pollinators facing extinction

Cincinnati, OH — A new billboard near the Cincinnati headquarters of Kroger (NYSE: KR) demands that the largest traditional grocery corporation in the U.S. stop using toxic pesticides linked to dramatic declines in populations of bees and other pollinators essential to food production. The billboard was placed by environmental organization Friends of the Earth as part of a larger campaign urging this and other top food retailers to help save pollinators by eliminating toxic pesticide use in their supply chains. The billboard, on the Fort Washington Way freeway, depicts a dead bumblebee and reads, “Kroger, say NO to toxic pesticides.”

“Scientists across the world are warning that we are in the midst of an ‘insect apocalypse,’ largely driven by toxic pesticides,” said Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “Kroger must take urgent action to save bees and other pollinators, which are essential for one in three bites of food, before it’s too late.”

In a 2018 statement , Kroger acknowledged that certain pesticides — which are used in its food supply chains — have been associated with harm to global bee populations, which it called “vulnerable.” The company committed to phase out use of a class of pollinator-toxic pesticides, called neonicotinoids, in live outdoor plants sold in its stores and garden centers. But the company has not committed to address the largest and most harmful use of pollinator-toxic pesticides in its food and beverage supply chains.

Friends of the Earth’s 2020 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard gave Kroger a “D.” The report, which analyzes 25 of the largest U.S. food retailers, noted that while Kroger has expanded its bee-friendly organic offerings, the company has not taken substantial steps to reduce use of pesticides that threaten pollinators in its food and beverage supply chains. Kroger lags behind competitors including Costco (NASDAQ: COST), Albertsons (NYSE: ACI) and Giant Eagle. Giant Eagle has the industryleading pesticide policy, which commits the company to eliminate use of neonicotinoids in its produce supply chain, a step which Friends of the Earth encourages Kroger to follow.

The billboard is a continuation of a multi-year effort urging Kroger to take urgent action on pesticides. Friends of the Earth, along with over 100 environmental, consumer, farmer and farmworker organizations, have driven hundreds of thousands of emails and calls to Kroger and have organized protests at Kroger’s shareholder meetings and retail stores. 

At current rates, forty percent of invertebrate pollinators face extinction in coming years according to a scientific meta-analysis. Research shows that organic farming can help reverse these declines. 

“We urge Kroger to make 2021 the year it takes action to save the bees. Kroger must leverage its enormous market power to shift away from bee-toxic pesticides that are contributing to the decimation of pollinators that are essential to its food supply chain and the health of our planet,” said Klein.

Photos can be accessed here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/x87sls51zwkzyvu/AABIJBFOVXUqW9yoYeLXi8gPa?dl=0

Expert Contact: Kendra Klein, Friends of the Earth, 415-350-5957, [email protected]
Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, Friends of the Earth, [email protected] 

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