The world’s largest food retailer announced their new pollinator health policy to help protect bees and other pollinators that are essential to food production. The policy, which was labeled “the most far reaching to date of any U.S. food retailer” by Friends of the Earth, made the company jump from an “F” to first place on the Earth’s Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard.
According to Friends of the Earth, Walmart’s commitment will “help transform growing practices on thousands of farms globally that supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the retail giant’s U.S. consumers.”
“Scientists across the world are sounding the alarm that we are in the midst of an ‘insect apocalypse,’ driven in large part by toxic pesticides,” Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth, said. “Walmart’s policy is a major step in the right direction, but with 40 percent of insect pollinators facing extinction, all retailers must accelerate a race to the top before pollinators lose their race against time.”
The pollinator health policy will “source 100 percent of the fresh produce and floral we sell in our in-store produce department from suppliers that adopt integrated pest management practices, as verified by a third-party, by 2025.” Walmart will do this by using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which is “a sustainable, science-based, decision-making process that combines biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to identify, manage and reduce risk from pests and pest management tools and strategies in a way that minimizes overall economic, health and environmental risks,” as defined by the IPM Institute of North America.
The new policy also aims to protect the pollinators’ habitat by protecting, restoring, and establishing ”pollinator habitat in pollinator migration corridors and on farms in its produce supply chain,” according to Friends of the Earth.
While organic agriculture is protective of pollinator health, experts said, Walmart’s new pollinator health policy will encourage non-organic produce suppliers to end their use of pesticides.
“Driving the scale of our collective pollinator commitments through our supply chain can create industry-leading changes and have a significant positive impact for the future of our planet,” Martin Mundo, SVP, general merchandise manager, produce and global produce sourcing at Walmart U.S., said.