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Popcorn's Dirty Secret: About

Center for Food Safety

It’s no secret we love popcorn: Americans consume more than 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year. But we’re getting more than we bargained for in all those bowls of popcorn: bee-toxic pesticides called neonicotinoids, or “neonics.”

Neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world. What makes them different from most pesticides is that they are systemic chemicals, meaning they disperse throughout the treated plant, rendering the whole plant toxic. Just as alarming, neonics are shown to last in the environment for years, harming species that the chemical was not designed to kill—like bees, butterflies, birds, and other helpful insects.

The largest single use of neonicotinoids is as a seed coating for annual field crops (like corn, soy, canola, and wheat). Researchers estimate that 79-100% of all corn seed grown in the United States is coated with one or more neonic chemical, and popcorn is no exception.

That’s why we’re calling on Orville Redenbacher, the biggest brand in the popcorn industry, to urge them to source their popcorn from seeds that are NOT coated in these harmful chemicals.

Orville Redenbacher will not be alone in taking action against neonics:

  • Thanks to your pressure, Pop Weaver, Pop Secret, and Preferred Popcorn—three of the biggest popcorn companies in the country—have already agreed to phase out their use of neonics.
  • To date, more than 4 million Americans have called on the government to take stronger actions to protect bees from toxic pesticides like neonicotinoids.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will implement a ban on neonicotinoid insecticides on all wildlife refuges nationwide by January 2016.
  • The European Union instituted a moratorium on the most toxic uses of neonicotinoids
  • The Province of Ontario, Canada has announced plans to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-coated corn and soybean seeds by 80 percent by 2017.
  • Although it is currently difficult to obtain non-coated seeds in the U.S.[1] growers in Canada requested and received non-treated seed, proving that it is possible to diversify the seed supply with non-coated options when companies and growers are willing to demand it.
  • Given the countless risks, lack of benefits [2], and widespread consumer demand for pollinator protection, it’s time for Orville Redenbacher to join Pop Weaver and Pop Secret and commit to phasing out the use of neonic-coated seeds for their popcorn.

Fact Sheets:

Popping Up Trouble: Pesticide Seed Coatings Threaten Bees

Hidden Costs of Toxic Seed Coatings




2 See and