This week, more than 5,000 people across the country are delivering letters to Kroger-owned stores demanding that the retailer eliminate use of toxic pesticides on the food it sells and increase offerings of domestic organic food to protect children, farmworkers and help curb catastrophic declines of pollinators and other insects. Larger actions are planned in Washington, D.C.; Oakland, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Raleigh, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Houston, Texas; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Eugene, Oregon; and Portland, Oregon.
This action comes on the heels of the first comprehensive global meta-analysis of insect decline that concluded the world’s insect species could go extinct within a century, largely due to widespread use of neonicotinoids and other toxic insecticides used in industrial agriculture, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.”
On Feb. 22, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published a report warning that the state of the world’s biodiversity threatens our food security, nutrition, health, livelihood and environment.
“Food retailers like Kroger have a moral and financial obligation to respond to dire scientific warnings that toxic pesticides are driving the ‘insect apocalypse’ that threatens food production and broader ecosystem collapse,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides and pollinators program manager at Friends of the Earth. “We also know pesticides are harming our health. Kroger must eliminate toxic pesticides linked to cancer, brain damage and pollinator declines in its supply chain and sell more healthy, organic food that is safe and for people, pollinators and the planet.”
In conjunction with the national action, 125 farmworker, farming, beekeeping, religious, public health, food safety and environmental advocacy groups delivered a letter to Kroger Monday, Feb. 25, echoing the same demands.
This month, Friends of the Earth and allies released a report that revealed Kroger’s store-brand foods contain toxic pesticides including glyphosate, organophosphates and neonicotinoids, which are contributing to pollinator decline and harm public health and the environment. The foods tested were affordable items that children and families typically eat, including oat cereal, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans. Friends of the Earth released another study this month that found switching to an organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduced exposure to pesticides—up to 95 percent—in just one week.
“If retailers recognize that food safety is an imperative for their customers, their policies should account for the presence of these harmful toxins in the supply chain,” said Alexis Luckey, executive director at Toxic Free North Carolina.
A 2018 scorecard from Friends of the Earth found that most top food retailers, including Kroger, are failing to protect bees and people from toxic pesticides.
“It is time for the retailers like Kroger to take responsibility for the tremendous influence they have in the food supply,” said Zen Honeycutt, executive director at Moms Across America. “Very simply, if Kroger chooses to reduce toxic exposure to our children, it can. It can support a transition to organic and regenerative agriculture by telling its suppliers that it will only be purchasing ingredients that are organic. It can prioritize stocking brands that support organic and regenerative agriculture. Kroger can be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
In response to global pollinator decline, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) is re-introducing Saving America’s Pollinators Act, which would suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that have already been banned or restricted in Canada and the EU.
Additionally, in a report released Monday, Feb. 25, U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) found that most wines and beers sold nationwide, including in some Kroger stores, contain glyphosate.
“When you’re having a beer or a glass of wine, the last thing you want to think about is that it includes a potentially dangerous pesticide,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, author of the report.
Court proceedings begin today for a set of trials regarding Roundup’s link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
More than 9,300 people are suing Monsanto for their exposure to Roundup (glyphosate is the active ingredient) because they believe it caused their cancer. This is the same chemical found on Kroger’s cereal and beans.