100 Groups Call on Kroger to Eliminate Toxic Pesticides on Food

Kroger pesticides

CINCINNATI, OHIO – On Thursday, farmworkers, students, public health, beekeeping, environmental, faith-based and consumer groups held a protest at Kroger’s (NYSE: KR) annual shareholder meeting, calling on the company to sign onto the Fair Food Program and commit to eliminate toxic pesticides from its supply chain. In conjunction with the protest, more than 100 farmworker, farming, beekeeping, religious, public health, food safety and environmental advocacy groups delivered a letter to Kroger urging the company to commit to stop selling food grown with toxic pesticides and increase domestically produced organic offerings.

On Monday, following a campaign led by Friends of the Earth, Kroger released a new pollinator policy to phase out neonicotinoids on live garden plants in its stores and garden centers by 2020, following more than 100 other retailers, including Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW).

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While the policy is an important step, it does not address eliminating toxic pesticides throughout Kroger’s conventional food and beverage supply chain. This month Costco (NYSE: COST) updated its pesticide policy to encourage suppliers of fruits, vegetables and garden plants to phase out the use of chlorpyrifos and neonicotinoids, which will reduce farmworker and pollinator exposure.

“While Kroger has taken a good first step, a strong and growing body of science tells us that to protect human health and address the pollinator crisis, food retailers must eliminate toxic pesticides in their supply chains,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

“We urge Kroger to expand the scope of its policy to address agricultural use of toxic pesticides to protect people, pollinators and the planet.”

Friends of the Earth and allies have led a multi-year campaign urging Kroger and other leading food retailers to commit to protecting people and pollinators by phasing out toxic pesticides and increasing domestically produced organic offerings.

A 2018 scorecard from Friends of the Earth found that most top food retailers are failing to protect bees and people from toxic pesticides. The report, “Swarming the Aisles II,” found that only Whole Foods had taken action to reduce pesticide use in its food supply chain.

Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used synthetic pesticides, have been implicated as a key driver of global declines of critical pollinators and species ranging from aquatic insects to birds and can impact human health. Chlorpyrifos is a toxic nerve agent pesticide that threatens human health and the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was set to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos nationwide last year, but the Trump Administration reversed that decision.

Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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