A neonicotinoid tag – What to do about it

First, thank the nursery for the tags that say ‘neonicotinoid’. They did not have to mark plants treated with neonicotinoids. They would sell more plants if they didn’t mark them. At least for a few years, they would.

(NOTE: This page is written for people who shop at big box stores and see the tags in plants they are considering purchasing.)

Neonicotinoid label - thank the nursery for tagging

Neonicotinoid label
Thank the nursery
for tagging their plants!

Neonicotinoid warning labels created by and written to make the wholesale nursery look good

Neonicotinoid warning labels -
created by and written to make
the wholesale nursery look good
because they believe in what they do

This nursery requires labeling with neonicotinoid tags as a warning to us, the customer

This nursery requires labeling
with neonicotinoid tags as a
warning to usthe customer.
Thank them!

You see the tags at the nursery and are shocked – WHAT? They sell plants treated with neonicotinoids? The truth is that they don’t have much choice. Few large wholesale nurseries grow plants without neonicotinoids.

Yes, thank them. They do not have to mark the plants. They chose to let us know that the plants are treated.

If we shun those stores and write nasty letters because of the tags, they may take the tags away. Then they’ll be like other nurseries that sell plants treated with neonicotinoids. You’ll buy them and not have an idea that they were treated until it is too late.

We want clear precise labeling on our food in the grocery store. Let’s thank the nurseries that label the plants they sell. Let’s buy the plants that aren’t treated with neonicotinoids. Don’t punish them for clear labeling. If we do, they may remove the labels and we won’t know that they are treated.

The tags are worded in the way they are because the wholesale nursery makes the tags. The wholesale nursery doesn’t want to word it in a way that will make them look bad. They believe in what they do. (We may not understand why, but they have their reasons. That is a different topic and we won’t address it here.) The retail store that requires the nursery to tag the plants believes you should know that the plants are treated with neonicotinoids. Yes, we repeat, thank the retail store.

The first step that some of the larger retail box stores are taking is to label plants that are treated with neonicotinoids. In the meanwhile, they are working with wholesale growers to coax them to grow plants without the pesticide. That is a big step. A wholesale nursery will not suddenly stop treating plants. That process takes time and baby steps.

A small nursery will find it easier to control plant pests by controlling what they grow and the number of plants they grow. They can train their employees to spot pests and to take steps to handle them before they become a major issue, when possible. Treatments to control plant pests that work at a large nursery are less expensive and much simpler if the grower can simply spray the plants with a few chemicals and be done with it.

Methods that will work to control pests at large nurseries will be more expensive to implement. Employees will need more training. Some of the treatments will be more expensive than broad-spectrum (kills everything) pesticides. Large wholesale nurseries are under pressure to produce massive number of beautiful plants very quickly at rock-bottom prices. As they begin to move away from neonicotinoids, expect prices to climb a bit. They have to make major changes and those changes will cost the nursery. That expense will be passed on to us. If we demand that the wholesale nurseries make these changes, we can pay a little more for the plants.

So as we (1) thank the stores that require the wholesale nurseries to label the plants and (2) we buy plants without the label, wholesale nurseries will realize that we (the final customers) are buying non-treated plants. Nurseries (wholesale and retail) will then focus more on plants that are not treated with pesticides.

Let’s do our part. Thank the retail stores for the tags. Consider shopping at stores that require the tags unless you normally purchase from a special nursery that does not use neonicotinoids (or pesticides) at all.

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