Costco releases new policy to limit toxic pesticides to protect pollinatorsCompany also increasing pollinator and people-friendly organic offerings
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Costco (NYSE: COST) has updated the breadth of its 2016 pollinator policy to encourage its suppliers of fruits, vegetables and garden plants to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoids. The policy encourages suppliers to limit use of non-essential chemicals, utilize eco-friendly methods of pest and disease control and incorporate Integrated Pest Management strategies and other solutions for the use of least toxic alternatives. The retailer is also “significantly expanding” its offerings of organic products, “which in turn supports pollinator health.”
“Given the failure of our federal government to regulate the rampant use of toxic pesticides, we are encouraged by the steps Costco is taking to reduce the use of toxic pesticides in its supply chain and increase organic offerings to protect our environment, public health and pollinators,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “We urge Costco and other leading food retailers to require suppliers to phase out use of chlorpyrifos, neonicotinoids and other toxic pesticides throughout their supply chains and to help make organic food available to all.”
This announcement follows a multi-year campaign led by Friends of the Earth and allies urging Costco and other leading food retailers to commit to protecting pollinators and human health by phasing out toxic pesticides and increasing domestically produced organic offerings.
A 2018 scorecard from Friends of the Earth found that most top food retailers are failing to protect bees and people from toxic pesticides. The report, “Swarming the Aisles II,” found that only Whole Foods had taken action to reduce pesticide use in its food supply chain.
Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used synthetic pesticides, have been implicated as a key driver of global declines of critical pollinators and species ranging from aquatic insects to birds. Despite millions of public comments, the U.S. EPA has delayed a decision on most uses of these pesticides. The European Union recently passed a ban on all outdoor uses of neonicotinoids.
Chlorpyrifos is a toxic nerve agent pesticide that threatens the survival of bees and other pollinators and can cause damage to children’s developing brains, including reduced IQ, loss of memory and attention deficit disorders, as well as acute pesticide poisoning in adults and children. Agricultural workers, their families and rural communities are particularly vulnerable. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was set to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos nationwide last year, but the Trump Administration reversed that decision. Yesterday, Hawaii signed a bill into law to ban chlorpyrifos.