Bunnings to pull pesticide allegedly linked to bee deaths

A controversial pesticide allegedly linked to bee deaths will be pulled from Bunnings’ shelves by the end of this year, a spokesman has confirmed.

The canned product Yates Confidor is a class of pesticide which some studies suggest affects bees’ navigation and immune systems, resulting in colony death.

Bunnings made the decision in November last year to remove the product from its UK and n stores amid declining British bee populations, however admitted their decision was based on precautions rather than scientific evidence.

“There’s a lot of conflicting science out there,” a spokeswoman said, “we decided to err on the side of caution.”

The company received several calls from concerned customers requesting the product be removed, but have not released a statement on its decision.

Yates Confidor is a neonicotinoid, a class of pesticides which is absorbed by the plant rather than coating its surface. The chemicals spread to all parts of the plants, and are exposed to bees through pollen.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientists identified a number of risks to bees from neonicotinoids in 2013, however were unable to finalise risk assessment due to a data gaps.

A spokesman for the n Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) said neonicotinoids registered for use in are safe and effective.

“This class of pesticides has been used in since the early 1990s and APVMA continue to monitor potential adverse experiences of the chemicals,” the spokesman said.

Agriculture Victoria records show the total number of registered beehives in Victoria remains stable, with good breeding conditions for European honey bee colonies this season.

The news comes as a petition urging Bunnings to pull the pesticide from its shelves reached 25,000 signatures in three days, in what senior campaigner Nick Haines called “highly successful”.

“I’ve never seen a petition take off so quickly,” he said.

The campaigners have decided to change their focus to Mitre 10 and Woolworths, who continue to stock neonicotinoid pesticides.

A Bunnings spokesperson said the company was aware of the petition, but reached its decision independently.

Bunnings chief operating officer Clive Duncan said the company has been working with suppliers and partners around the use of neonicotinoids.

“(Bunnings ensures) we keep abreast of the evolving science and issues impacting bee populations,” he said.

The hardware giant also plans to remove the pesticide Yates Confidor from its stores in Ireland and New Zealand by the end of 2018, and will stock natural and organic pesticides as a replacement.