Waitrose is banning suppliers from using three neonicotinoid pesticides over concerns about their effect on bees, butterflies and other crop pollinators.
Farmers who supply Waitrose with fruit, veg and flowers must stop using imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam by the end of next year at the latest, under Waitrose’s new Seven Point Plan for Pollinators.
Waitrose aimed to be a restorative retailer, putting back more than it took from the environment, said MD Mark Price. “We believe our decision on the three formulations of neonicotinoids is appropriate until conclusive evidence is put forward about the effects of these three chemicals.”
“We believe our decision on the three formulations of neonicotinoids is appropriate until conclusive evidence is put forward about the effects of these three chemicals”
Mark Price, Waitrose
The restriction is a precautionary measure and will only remain in place until scientists can demonstrate conclusively whether or not neonicotinoids adversely affect pollinator populations.
Meanwhile, Waitrose will fund a University of Exeter research project into the effects on pollinators of multiple pesticide use, looking at combinations of neonicotinoids and other pesticides. The results of the three-year programme will be used to develop alternative methods of pest control.
“Given the concern about these pesticides and the need to support pollinators we believe this is a responsible precautionary step as part of a wider, holistic approach under our seven-point plan,” added David Croft, Waitrose director of quality and technical.
The plan will also apply to commodity crops, such as oil seed rape grown on the Waitrose Farm at Leckford in Hampshire.
The debate over the harmful impact of neonicotinoids is hotting up. This week, Greenpeace called for a Europe-wide ban on bee-harming pesticides, including some neonicotinoids.
Last week, a cross-party committee of MPs urged the UK government to take urgent action to protect bee populations from the harmful effect of neonicotinoids.