Kroger, Eliminate Bee-Toxic Pesticides from Your Food Supply Chain

Over 100 environmental, consumer, food safety, farmer and farmworker groups urge grocer to save bees from “insect apocalypse” during National Pollinator Week. (Courtesy of YouTube)

On the eve of Kroger’s annual shareholder meeting, groups across Europe and North America called on the grocery giant to commit to eliminating toxic pesticides linked to dramatic pollinator declines from the company’s food supply chain.

This action, which was organized during National Pollinator Week, is just a part of a larger campaign urging Kroger and other top retailers to take urgent action on pesticides and expand organic offerings to protect bees and other pollinators.

Kroger currently lags behind competitors like Albertsons, Costco and Giant Eagle, and Walmart recently announced a time-bound commitment, the most far-reaching to date of any U.S.

Paolo Mutia, Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of the Earth
Paolo Mutia, Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of the Earth

“Scientists warn we are facing an ‘insect apocalypse,’ largely driven by toxic pesticides,” explains Paolo Mutia, Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

“Kroger needs to join competitors like Walmart that have established industry-leading policies to protect pollinators essential to its business and to our food system, before it’s too late.”

Forty percent of invertebrate pollinators face extinction, and research shows that pesticides are a key driver, and also shows that organic farming can help reverse pollinator declines.

Kroger store-brand foods have been found to contain toxic pesticides, including glyphosate, organophosphates, and neonicotinoids, which are linked to adverse human health impacts and harm to bees and other pollinators.

The foods tested were items that kids and families typically eat including cereal, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans.

(Neonicotinoids were approved for commercial use in the 1990s. But their exact environmental impact has been questionable. Courtesy of Newsy and YouTube.)

“I don’t want to live in a world without bees. Or strawberries. Or chocolate. Or coffee,” said Lacey Kohlmoos, U.S. Campaign Manager at SumOfUs, a global non-profit advocacy organization that campaigns to hold corporations accountable on issues such as climate change, workers’ rights, discrimination, human rights, animal rights, corruption, and corporate power grab.

Lacey Kohlmoos, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs
Lacey Kohlmoos, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs

“And unless Kroger makes a strong commitment to protect bees and other pollinators from extinction, that’s very well what may end up happening.’

“It’s time for Kroger to finally step up and do its part to save the bees, and our favorite foods and drinks.”

Friends of the Earth, along with over 100 environmental, consumer, food safety, farmer and farmworker organizations, have driven hundreds of thousands of emails and calls to Kroger, organized protests at Kroger’s shareholder meetings and grocery stores and placed a billboard outside of Kroger headquarters in Cinncinnati, Ohio.

In addition to Friends of the Earth, the coalition includes Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Green America, Herbicide Free Campus, SumOfUs, Toxic Free NC, and Kids Right to Know.

(Insecticides are sometimes necessary in farming. But some substances, like neonicotinoids, kill not only pests but bees as well. Now the Bayer Group, one of the main manufacturers of these pesticides, is coming under pressure. Courtesy of DW Documentary and YouTube.)

“As a major grocer, Kroger is responsible for ensuring that both its customers and the environment are healthy,” added Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at Center for Food Safety.

“Its customers want to live in a world where they can delight in the sights and sounds of insects and wildlife.”

Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at Center for Food Safety
Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at Center for Food Safety

“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.”

“Food retailers like Kroger have both the responsibility and means to ensure the products they sell are not contributing to the insect apocalypse and the ongoing collapse of biodiversity worldwide,” said Drew Toher, Community Resource and Policy Director at Beyond Pesticides.

“We urge Kroger to get its house in order: expand its selection of organic foods, and ensure all products sold at its stores are grown in manner that safeguards soil health, pollinators, farmers, and the farmworkers our agricultural system relies upon.”

Friends of the Earth’s 2020 Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard, which gave Kroger a “D-” rating, analyzes 25 of the largest U.S. grocery stores, noted that while Kroger has expanded its bee-friendly organic offerings, the company has not taken substantial steps to reduce the sale of pesticides that threaten pollinators in its food and beverage supply chains.

(Pollinators — like bees and butterflies — are crucial to sustaining the reproduction and renewal of plants. On this edition of Get It Growing, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Heather Kirk-Ballard talks about plants that can attract pollinators, while coloring your landscape. Courtesy of LSU AgCenter and YouTube.)

“Toxic pesticides have no place on the food we feed our families,” said Alexis Luckey, Executive Director at Toxic Free North Carolina.

“We ask Kroger to demonstrate corporate responsibility by influencing its supply chain to transition to healthier and more sustainable growing practices that will protect the health of our community and biodiversity of our precious ecosystem.”

“Pollinators as a keystone species are essential to healthy and productive food and ecosystems,” added Joyce Kennedy Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator at People and Pollinators Action Network.

Bees Courtesy of Green America
Courtesy of Green America

“Time is of the essence to protect this vital wildlife by eliminating their pesticide exposures.”

“Toxic pesticides are harming farmworkers, farmers, pollinators, consumers, and communities nationwide,” said Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director at Green America.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for foods that are organic and protect people and the planet.”

“Kroger’s sales, profits, and brand will be at risk if it fails to eliminate toxic pesticides from products on its shelves.”

Rachel Parent, Founder and Director at Kids Right to Know
Rachel Parent, Founder and Director at Kids Right to Know

“Bees, a vital part of maintaining our eco-systems and food supply are under attack more than ever due to toxic pesticides,” said Rachel Parent, Founder and Director at Kids Right to Know.

“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!

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