Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thiacloprid - the neonicotinoid they are still selling

In this article published on the 11th of April 2013 on the B&Q website, they say:

As the debate on neonicotinoid pesticides and their potential harmfulness to bees rumbles on, B&Q is launching the B&Q Bee Friendly Campaign and signing up to support Friends of the Earth's call for stakeholders to protect the UK's bee population with a National Bee Action Plan.

B&Q was one of the first retailers to remove neonicotinoid products from its shelves earlier this year as the debate reignited. 

To mark the first anniversary of the Friends of the Earth's 'Bee Cause' campaign, B&Q has officially pledged to support the call for all stakeholders to participate in creating a National Bee Action Plan. This would include measures to manage the potential impact of neonicotinoid chemicals until such time as conclusive evidence is available. 

Last month the UK government abstained in a European Council vote to ban the use of neonicotinoids for two years, and has commissioned further scientific studies to investigate what impact the chemicals may be having on bees. 
B&Q's director of corporate social responsibility Matthew Sexton said: ""As the UK's largest garden centre, we're proud to be supporting Friends of the Earth's call for a National Bee Action Plan and to be launching the B&Q Bee Friendly campaign today. Having removed pesticides containing Imidacloprid from our shelves earlier this year, we're encouraging other retailers and garden centres to follow our lead and we'll be helping gardeners from across the UK to think bee-friendly when they garden this season." 

Isn't that just wonderful.  Well. I thought so till I walked into my local B&Q and found a long shelf full of Provado Ultimate Bug Killer from Bayer.  It contains two active ingredients, methiocarb, which kills pretty much anything, and thiacloprid, which, surprise surpise, is a neonicotinoid, or as Wikipedia neatly puts it:

"Thiacloprid is an insecticide of the neonicotinoid class. Its mechanism of action is similar to other neonicotinoids and involves disruption of the insect's nervous system by stimulating nicotinic acetylcholine receptors."

So, Matthew Sexton, in what way are you encouraging other retailers and garden centres to follow our lead and help gardeners from across the UK to think bee-friendly when they garden this season.  By continuing to sell them neonicotinoids?  Are you being disingenuous, economical with the truth or just telling bare-faced lies?

And what are Friends of the Earth up to?  From their webpage:

Firms act on insecticides
In the last few months the Bee Cause campaign has helped persuade lots of home and garden retailers to remove neonicotinoids from their shelves. The pesticides have been identified as 'a high acute risk' to bees.
Businesses involved include:  B&Q (321 UK stores)

So that's some nice free publicity for the neonicotinoid-selling B&Q.

The Soil Association seem more on the money with this list where one sees that thiacloprid is sold not just by B&Q but also by Homebase and Wilkinson.  And you can also buy it from Amazon, Capital Gardens, Robert Dyas, Pitch Care, Gro-Well Direct, Garden Direct,, Ashridge Nurseries, Albert's Garden, Amenity Land Solutions, Hayes Garden World, ... the list goes on and on.  You can even buy it at Waitrose the supermarket that just announced they are going to stop their suppliers using neonicotinoids:

Waitrose removes three neonicotinoids from supply chain
Waitrose is asking suppliers of fruit, vegetables and flowers to avoid the use of three formulations of neonicotinoid based pesticides on crops destined for the supermarket. The move comes in light of concerns about their effects on bees, butterflies and other important pollinators.  Read more from their press release of 12th April 2013.

Ah yes, there it is again. Thiacloprid is not included in the list.  So just what is it about thiacloprid that makes it ok to keep using while the other neonicotinoids are being banned with great fanfare?

Try to find the answer for yourselves:

And in case you think that honeybees are not affected by sub-lethal doses of the neonicotinoid thiacloprid, think again.   This is the Cyril Vidau et al paper:

Exposure to Sublethal Doses of Fipronil and Thiacloprid Highly Increases Mortality of Honeybees Previously Infected by Nosema ceranae

So, B&Q and all you other stores who claim to be going bee-friendly, and your supporters at Friends of the Earth, how about coming clean?

Update 15/04/2013
Tesco tweeted thus:

Thanks for waiting whilst we have been looking into this, the majority of our pesticide products do not use neonicotinoids.
And here's a picture of Provado Ultimate Bug Killer being sold in Tesco:

Update 16/04/2013

Sophie Yeo, writing in the Telegraph, says "the Daily Telegraph can reveal that products containing neonicotinoids are still being stocked by supermarkets and garden centres that claim to be “bee friendly”.  It's good to see the message is getting through.  It's an article worth reading.

Update 17/04/2013

Message from Henk Tennekes

Thiacloprid's toxicity to honeybees is also reinforced by exposure time. So, the compound is bound to be lethal to honey bees under chronic exposure conditions, just as much as imidacloprid is. Laboratory bioassays conducted to determine the contact honey bee toxicity of commercial neonicotinoid insecticides showed that the nitro-substituted compounds were the most toxic to the honey bee with LD50 values of 18 ng/bee for imidacloprid and 30 ng for thiamethoxam. The cyano-substituted neonicotinoids exhibited a much lower toxicity with LD50 values for acetamiprid and thiacloprid of 7.1 and 14.6 µg/bee, respectively. However, piperonyl butoxide and propiconazole increased honey bee toxicity of acetamiprid 6.0- and 105-fold and thiacloprid 154- and 559-fold, respectively, but had a minimal effect on imidacloprid (1.70 and 1.52-fold, respectively). A broad survey of pesticide residues conducted on samples from North American apiaries during the 2007–08 growing seasons revealed the presence of 121 different pesticides and metabolites within wax, pollen, bee and associated hive samples, including acetamiprid, thiacloprid, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, piperonyl butoxide and propiconazole. Thus, under practical circumstances, acetamiprid and thiacloprid can be as toxic to honey bees as imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

Therein probably lies a reason why thiacloprid did not make the list of three (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for the EU Commission's restriction proposal and therefore was left out of the product withdrawals by B&Q and the others.  As Henk explains, it does not mean that is is any safer to insect life, including bees, than the other neonicotinoids. 


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