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Kroger releases new policy to limit bee-killing pesticides on garden plants

Company must take immediate action eliminate toxic pesticides on food

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kroger (NYSE: KR) released a new pollinator policy to phase out neonicotinoids on live garden plants in its stores and garden centers by 2020. This announcement comes days before Kroger’s annual shareholder meeting where Friends of the Earth and allies will be urging Kroger to commit to stop selling food grown with toxic pesticides and increase domestically produced organic offerings.

“Kroger’s new policy is a good first step in addressing the bee crisis and working to eliminate toxic pesticides in its supply chain,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “If Kroger is serious about protecting pollinators, people and the planet, it must phase out the use of toxic pesticides on the food it sells and increase its domestic organic offerings.”

This month Costco updated its pesticide policy to encourage suppliers of fruits, vegetables and garden plants to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoids, which will reduce farmworker and pollinator exposure.

Costco and Kroger’s announcements follows a multi-year campaign led by Friends of the Earth and allies urging 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 and can impact human health. Chlorpyrifos is a toxic nerve agent pesticide that threatens human health and the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was set to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos nationwide last year, but the Trump Administration reversed that decision.

On Thursday, farmworkers, students, public health, beekeeping, environmental, faith based and consumer allies will converge at Kroger’s annual shareholder meeting. Groups are calling on Kroger to sign onto the Fair Food Program (FFP) and commit to eliminate toxic pesticides from its supply chain.

Expert contact: Tiffany Finck-Haynes, (202) 222-0715, tfinckhaynes@foe.org
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

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