The Center for Food Safety and other groups are asking Kroger, a grocery company, to make a commitment to eliminate pesticides that have been linked to declines in bees from its supply chain, according to a press release. The release claimed that 40% of invertebrate pollinators are facing extinction, and a major factor is pesticides.
The groups purported that Kroger store-brand foods in tests were found to contain glyphosate, organophosphates, and neonicotinoids, which are all reportedly toxic pesticides. The press release claimed that in addition to their potential to harm bees, the foods can also have adverse health impacts for humans.
The Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, and over 100 other environmental and food safety groups have reached out to Kroger, including protests at shareholder meetings, one of which is being held tomorrow, and billboards outside of Kroger headquarters.
“As a major grocer, Kroger is responsible for ensuring that both its customers and the environment are healthy,” said Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at Center for Food Safety. “People want to live in a world where they can delight in the sights and sounds of insects and wildlife. Kroger should make sure its customers have access to healthy, organic foods that benefit human health and are produced without toxic pesticides that harm our bees and ecosystems.”
Allegedly, Kroger “lags behind” its competitors in taking these steps, specifically, Walmart which announced a commitment earlier this year to address the decline in pollinators, and said it plans to source all of its produce and floral products from suppliers with integrated pest management practices. The press release reported that Kroger was given a D- rating on Friends of the Earth’s Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard which considered 25 U.S. grocery stores, the highest score was Walmart with a C+.
“Bees, a vital part of maintaining our ecosystems and food supply are under attack more than ever due to toxic pesticides … If Kroger truly cares about its customers, the environment, and the bees they will step up and say no to bee-toxic pesticides. The young generations are calling for change, now it is time for Kroger to listen,” said Rachel Parent, founder and director at Kids Right to Know which is one of the groups involved in the effort.
Jaydee Hanson with the Center for Food Safety told Law Street Media that the campaign is targeting Kroger because it is a major grocery chain, it has responded in the past to other campaigns, and its shareholder meeting is during the national month for addressing pollinator issues. Kroger, along with other grocery chains also sell pesticides, and if they were to stop it could cause changes in the companies producing the chemicals. Hanson said halting the sale of these chemicals could make “tremendous difference” and save pollinators and birds.
“We believe that Kroger can and will do better if encouraged. People want to live in a world where they can delight in the sights and sounds of insects and wildlife. Kroger should make sure its customers have access to healthy, organic foods that benefit human health and are produced without toxic pesticides that harm our bees and ecosystems. Then we will have a healthy ecosystem and be happy to shop at Kroger,” Hanson said.
This week was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as National Pollinator Week, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a proclamation encouraging people to celebrate pollinators and their role in the food, agriculture, and ecosystems.
“The health of these agricultural contributors is critical to the vitality and sustainability of U.S. agriculture, food security, and our nation’s overall economy. Pollinators are also essential for healthy, biodiverse ecosystems across public and private lands, including our agricultural lands and our National Forests and grasslands,” said Vilsack in a press release. “I applaud pollinator conservation efforts happening across our nation. I recognize we have a lot more work to do to protect these important agricultural contributors and creating awareness about the importance of pollinators is a continued step to ensuring pollinators thrive.”