Letter writer: Pesticide raises concern about effects on bees, people

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I recently visited the garden center at Home Depot and happened to see a group of coneflowers, also known as echinacea, in full bloom. I saw many bees collecting pollen from several of the flowers. I want to try beekeeping in the springtime, and it seemed that these plants would be good for bees and butterflies. They are also used in herbal remedies.

I purchased four plants and eagerly took them home and planted them in my garden. After planting them, I noticed a plastic tab stating that the plant was treated with neonicotinoids (neonics). Note: Look up this pesticide on the Internet. It is linked to the honeybee decline, and what about the herbal benefits of this plant? What is the effect to our systems and general health?

— John Vascellaro
Asheville

Editor’s note: When contacted, Home Depot spokesman Matt Harrigan said that the company is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency and other scientific groups to understand the effects of the insecticide on honeybees. Home Depot is one of a few retailers requiring suppliers to label neonics-treated plants so that concerned customers won’t purchase them unknowingly, he says, adding that most nurseries have at least some plants treated with the pesticide. In the meantime, “we are partnering with suppliers to come up with possible substitutes for neonics,” Harrigan says.

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