It might be a stretch to say that your morning bowl of cereal is hurting bees, but depending on how pesticides were used to grow those grains, the impact might be greater than you think—so much so that General Mills recently took a step to do more to protect pollinators.
While we are leaning on our government to do the same because of the declining health of our pollinator populations, some big companies are voluntarily changing their policies in favor of protecting the insects, birds, bats and other mammals that help our food grow. A group of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, have been suspected of contributing to pollinator deaths, and consumer and environmental advocacy groups have been ramping up the pressure to stop the use of neonics.
As You Sow recently engaged in shareholder talks with General Mills, which resulted in the company agreeing to incorporate measures that will limit exposing pollinators to pesticides as part of their supply chain policies. PR Newswire quotes Austin Wilson, Environmental Health Program Manager at As You Sow:
Many of the crops that General Mills buys depend on pollinators. By investing in supply-chain sustainability, General Mills is ensuring the future of its supply chain and its profitability."
This is exciting, and it’s catching on. Home improvement retail giant Lowe’s recently committed to no longer selling neonics in their stores. Home Depot made a weaker, yet still significant commitment to labeling all products that contain neonics. Friends of the Earth, which has been leading a campaign to change the retail gardening industry, speculates that real change in the favor of pollinator health is now in process. Whole Foods also is incorporating the use and non-use of neonics as criteria in their Responsibly Grown food rating system.
But the real breakthrough is General Mills acting as the first processed food company to make a commitment against neonics. The impact they can have on their supply chain is remarkably large. Let’s hope that more Big Food companies will follow!
As You Sow 2015 Shareholder Resolution General Mills via As You Sow