Costco Says NO To Bee-Killing Pesticides, Demands Suppliers Make Immediate Changes

The retail giant, Costco, sent a clear message to its suppliers demanding they limit the use of non-essential pesticides for products sold in their stores.

In particular, Costco discourages the use of a controversial class of insecticides called neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are known to cause damage to the ecosystem, in particular, the harmful effects it has on pollinator species like bees.

In the past, Costco received recognition from both employees and consumers for its progressive steps when it comes to sustainability. Moreover, with the new policy they added, we hope to see additional companies join the movement for the preservation of bees and other precious pollinators in the future.

In 2016, Costco released a policy called “Costco Wholesale’s Live Goods Policy To Protect Pollinator Health,” where it explains:

“Costco Wholesale understands that the honey bee population is declining and these bees are necessary for the life cycles of people, plants and the food we consume. We have invested in a multi-year research project to improve honey bee health and sustainability and are committed to following the continuing research, developments surrounding bee colony collapse and other areas of environmental concern. We are also committed to business practices that support the growth and sustainability of bees and other pollinators.”

Furthermore, Costco’s policy encourages suppliers to look beyond traditional methods of pest and disease control into eco-friendly alternatives. The retail giant specifies that any application for chemical use must meet or exceed laws and regulations, both local and federal.

In fact, the policy aligns with recent announcements made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lessen the serious risks to bees from modern pesticide products. Consequently, since Costco has discouraged neonicotinoids, especially when it comes to plants where bees represent the primary pollinator, or on plants that are known to attract bees, it could have a tremendous positive impact on the surrounding environment.

In a recent announcement, the endangered species list grew by yet another unsuspecting victim – the rusty patched bumblebee – which was a widespread species before its tragic downfall. It is now the first bee in the contiguous 48 states to have been proposed for endangered species status. However, many people share the same concern that it may not be the last.

Why Neonicotinoids are so dangerous

Neonicotinoids, also known as neonics, are a common class of insecticides. However, research shows that the effects of these pesticides go beyond their expected victims and cause enormous damage to bees and other pollinator species.

Researchers from Mainz University Medical Center and Goethe University Frankfurt observed that even moderate doses of neonics cause harm to bees. They published their discoveries in the respected journal, PLOS One in 2016.

Findings prove that even minute quantities of neonics could affect acetylcholine levels in developing bee larvae. This development could have a severe effect on the bees’ later growth. While at the higher levels the toxin showed even stronger adverse effects.

The European Union (EU) came to a similar conclusion back in 2013. The decision prompted them to set restrictions on three widespread neonicotinoid insecticides: thiamethoxam, imidacloprid, and clothianidin.


Many scientific papers have shown that non-lethal amounts of neonics may relate to the rapid decline in bee populations. These reports also touch on the subject of irregularities in breeding and impaired flight orientation with the species.

Therefore, we must end the use of harmful pesticides, and other similar chemicals of we are to give the bees a fighting chance. Moreover, we look to businesses like Costco who hold influential positions to make a positive impact. With over 705 stores worldwide and annual sales around the $120 billion mark, they could become leaders in the movement against the use of harmful chemical products that continue to endanger Earth’s natural ecosystem.


Bishop, Vic. “Major Big Box Retailer Calls On Suppliers To Stop Using Bee-Killing Chemicals – Waking Times”. Waking Times. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 June 2017.

“Neonicotinoid Pesticides Cause Harm To Honeybees: Researchers Discover New Mechanism Associated With Worldwide Decline Of Bee Populations”. ScienceDaily. N.p., 2016. Web. 5 June 2017.

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