Ortho, an insect-control brand of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., has announced it will stop using neonicotinoids in its pesticides.
While scientific studies of so-called “neonics” differ on whether they are harmful to pollinators, some studies suggest pesticides in that class of chemicals are harmful to bees and other pollinators.
In response a number of local jurisdictions are considering limitations on the use of neonics. Maryland has come closest so far to approving a statewide ban on homeowner use of that class of pesticides. The legislature there has approved a bill that is now before Gov. Larry Hogan.
Ortho announced this week it will phase out the use of neonicotinoid chemicals sometime next year.
“While agencies in the U.S. are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on,” said Tim Martin, general manager of the Ortho brand.
The company is planning to work with the Pollinator Stewardship Council to help educate homeowners on the safe use of pesticides and to lobby for labeling that marks non-neonics pesticides clearly.
“We encourage other companies and brands in the consumer pest-control category to follow our lead,” Martin said.
While Ortho says the majority of neonicotinoids have already been eliminated from its products, its remaining products containing the chemicals will either be reformulated or discontinued by 2017.
Neonic manufacturers such as Bayer CropScience and Syngenta say research suggesting the chemicals are responsible for pollinator decline is exaggerated. They’re focusing their own studies on providing more habitat and food sources for bees.
The Environmental Protection Agency is researching the effects of neonics on pollinators, although the results of that work aren’t expected until 2018.