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Bees and other pollinators are responsible for 1 in 3 bites of food we eat. Without them, grocery stores would run short of some of our most important and nutritious foods. Coffee? You’ll need to cut back. Nuts and berries for breakfast? I don’t think so. A yummy salad? Your bowl will be nearly empty.
Pollinators are in great peril; their populations are declining around the world. Friends of the Earth works to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides like neonicotinoids and glyphosate and shift to organic farming systems that are healthier for bees, butterflies, people and the planet.
What we’re doing
What you can do
- Join our email list at the top of this page to receive updates and action alerts
- Ask your Senator: Co-sponsor Sen. Merkley’s Pollinator Recovery Act of 2017!
- Tell Ace Hardware: Stop selling bee-killing pesticides!
- Tell Kroger: Say NO to bee-killing pesticides and YES to bee-friendly organic!
- Tell your Representative: Say NO to the Bayer-Monsanto merger
Make your yard & community safe for bees
Use these resources to make your backyard and community a safe place for bees (and all of us)!
A growing body of science implicates pesticides called neonicotinoids and glyphosate — made by giant chemical companies Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto — as key factors in their decline.
Neonicotinoids (aka neonics) are one of the most common pesticides used in agriculture and are also used extensively by home and garden centers. As Friends of the Earth’s research shows, unbeknownst to consumers, many “bee-friendly” garden plants have been pre-treated with these bee-killing pesticides. Exposure to neonics can kill bees directly and also makes them more susceptible to other impacts like pests, diseases, loss of habitat and a changing climate.
Glyphosate (a.k.a. Monsanto’s Roundup®) is the most widely used herbicide in the world. In the United States, glyphosate is wiping out milkweed, which monarch butterflies rely on as the only food for their young. Use of glyphosate has increased dramatically in the past two decades since Monsanto launched its genetically engineered Roundup®-Ready corn, soy, canola and cotton.
While the European Union suspended the use of three neonics after a scientific review found that they pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been dragging its feet. Despite receiving more than six million public comments urging swift protections for bees, the agency delayed action on most uses of neonics until 2018. In the absence of federal action, states are leading the way — Maryland, Connecticut and Minnesota have passed landmark legislation to protect pollinators!
Along with banning toxic pesticides, we need to expand bee-friendly farming. Organic farms do not use synthetic pesticides, including neonics or glyphosate, and support 50 percent more pollinator species than conventional farms. Right now, less than one percent of U.S. farmland is in organic production – we need your help to change that!
Reports & resources
Issue briefs & factsheets
- Pollinator Factsheet
Buyers Bee-ware: Municipal purchasers’ guide to protecting pollinators
A new report by Friends of the Earth and Responsible Purchasing, Buyers Bee-ware: Municipal Purchasers’ Guide to Protecting Pollinators, outlines how government agencies and institutions can change their purchasing policies and practices to protect honey bees and other pollinators.
Read the executive summary and the blog by Jason Davidson.
Swarming the Aisles: Rating top retailers on bee-friendly and organic food
Our new report and scorecard graded 20 of the largest food retailers in the United States on their policies and practices regarding pollinator protection, organic offerings and pesticide reduction. Of the top food retailers as ranked by total U.S. sales, 17 received an “F” for failing to have a publicly available policy to reduce or eliminate pesticide use to protect pollinators. While consumer demand for organic food items is increasing rapidly and major food retailers have started to increase organic food offerings, few major food retailers have adopted clear goals or metrics outlining policies to increase organic options in the future significantly.
Read the executive summary.
Read the press release.
Gardeners Beware: Bee-Toxic Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Centers Across the U.S.
Our new study reveals the presence of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in “bee-friendly” plants sold at major retailers at levels that have the potential to harm or even kill bees. The study found a significant decrease in plants tested that contain neonicotinoids — from 51 percent in 2014 to 23 percent in 2016. This reduction is likely due to changes in store policies inspired by consumer action that commits major retailers, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, to eliminate neonicotinoid use on garden plants.
Read the press release.
Buzz-Kill: How the Pesticide Industry is Clipping the Wings of Bee Protection Efforts Across the U.S.
In a new report, Friends of the Earth documents how the pesticide industry has weakened and delayed pesticide reforms and is shaping new pollinator “protection” plans nationwide that do little to protect bees, and a lot to protect industry profits. This investigation reveals an array of pesticide industry tactics to slow urgently needed pollinator protection measures at federal and state levels.
Read the press release.
Growing bee-friendly garden plants: Profiles in innovation
A report by Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute, providing examples of wholesale nurseries, retailers and institutions, large and small, that are successfully phasing out use of pollinator-toxic pesticides from their operations, implementing innovative new pest management approaches to avoid regrettable substitutions, and moving toward practices that are healthy for bees and the environment. The report shares strategies and resources for other businesses to follow the lead of these industry leaders.
Gardeners Beware (2014): Bee-toxic pesticides found in “bee-friendly plants sold at garden centers across the U.S. and Canada
A new study shows that 36 out of 71 (51 percent) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid pesticides — a key contributor to recent bee declines. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright assuming comparable concentrations are present in the flowers’ pollen and nectar. Further, 40 percent of the positive samples contained two or more neonicotinoids.
Read the press release here.
Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits
A report by Michele Simon and Friends of the Earth uncovers the deceptive public relations tactics chemical companies Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto are using to manufacture doubt about science and fool politicians to delay action on neonicotinoid pesticides. As the bee crisis worsens, these companies are using tobacco-style PR tricks to protect their profits at the expense of bees and our future.
Gardeners Beware (2013): Bee-toxic pesticides found in “bee-friendly” plants sold at garden centers nationwide
A first-of-its-kind pilot study by Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute in 2013 found 54 percent of common garden plants purchased at top retailers, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, contained neonicotinoid pesticides, which studies show can harm or kill bees and other pollinators, with no warning to consumers.
Read the press release here.