A new evaluation by Friends of the Earth shows that 17 out of 20 top food retailers are not adequately meeting the increased consumer demand for organic food and sustainable, pesticide-free items.
“Most top U.S. food retailers do not have a publicly available policy to reduce or eliminate pesticide use to protect pollinators,” reads the report. “Of the top 20 food retailers, 17 received an ‘F’ in this category. Only Aldi, Costco and Whole Foods received grades of ‘B’ or “C” in this category.”
The report attributes bees with an estimated $20 billion contribution to the American economy and $217 billion to the global economy.
“Without bees and other pollinators, our supermarket shelves would be pretty bare and empty,” says Finck-Hayes. “And they’re an indicator species, so they’re really telling us that their decline is most likely resulting in a larger decline that we’re seeing for the rest of the species in our ecosystem.”
Eleven of the 20 grocers rated in the report don’t provide basic information about their policies regarding organic food and pesticides to their customers.
“A lot of the major food retailers have started to increase their organic offerings,” Tiffany Finck-Haynes, a Food Futures campaigner with the group, told WIBQ. “But few of them have really adopted clear goals or metrics to continue to significantly increase their organic food offerings in the future.”
Finck-Hayes advises retailers to visibly increase organic offerings by 15 percent over the course of the next ten years.
“There’s a lot that retailers could do, by adopting creative programs with their supply chain to help farmers grow their organic offerings, and then be able to sell that in their stores,” she says.
Demand for organic produce has increased in the double digits since the 1990s. Total U.S. organic sales were $39.7 billion in 2015 of a total $43.3 billion in food sales, up 11 percent from the previous year.
Less than one percent of total American farmland devoted to organic production.
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