Environmental and food safety groups filed suit on Wednesday against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, demanding it end the cultivation of genetically modified crops on Midwestern wildlife refuges.
The groups claim the federal agency broke the law by entering agreements with farmers that allowed planting of biotech crops on refuge land in eight U.S. states without environmental reviews required by U.S. law.
Most of the crops at issue are “Roundup Ready” — biotech crops engineered by Monsanto to tolerate dousings of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the plaintiffs said. Roundup Ready crops have been shown to “foster an epidemic of superweeds,” and create other problems for the environment, according to the plaintiffs.
“National Wildlife Refuges are sanctuaries for migratory birds, native grasses, and endangered species,” said Paige Tomaselli, an attorney for the Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“Allowing pesticide-promoting, GE (genetically engineered) crops degrades these vital ecosystems and is antithetical to the basic purpose of our refuge system. Worse still is approval without meaningful review of these crops’ impacts,” Tomaselli said in a statement.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the fourth in a series of suits aimed at ending this practice, Tomaselli said.