Fish and Wildlife Service Agrees to Phase-out Genetically Engineered Crops and Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides on National Refuges
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will phase out the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops to feed wildlife and ban neonicotinoid insecticides from all wildlife refuges nationwide by January 2016. The FWS decision, announced via internal...
July 31, 2014 | Source: Center for Food Safety | by
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A National Victory Nearly Ten Years in the Making!
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will phase out the use of genetically engineered (GE) crops to feed wildlife and ban neonicotinoid insecticides from all wildlife refuges nationwide by January 2016. The FWS decision, announced via internal memoranda obtained by Center for Food Safety (CFS), follows a longstanding grassroots, legal, and policy campaign by CFS and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) to end the harmful practices. This announcement builds on a previously announced decision to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from refuges in the Pacific Region.
From 2005-2014, CFS and PEER filed five lawsuits, two legal petitions, and countless administrative actions, with resulting judicial decisions concluding that the allowance of GE crops on refuges violated environmental laws in multiple refuge regions across the country. The nonprofits have long urged FWS to prohibit the practice nationally. FWS is the first federal agency to restrict the use of GE crops and neonicotinoids in farming in the U.S.
“We have demonstrated our ability to successfully accomplish refuge purposes over the past two years without using genetically modified crops, therefore, it is no longer possible to say that their use is essential to meet wildlife management objectives. We will no longer use genetically modified crops to meet wildlife management objectives System-wide,” wrote National Wildlife Refuge System Chief James Kurth in the memorandum.
“GE crops and toxic pesticides violate the basic purposes of our protected national lands,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety. “We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for recognizing what our legal challenges have repeatedly stated and courts have repeatedly held: that they must stop permitting these harmful agricultural practices.”
GE crops and neonicotinoid pesticides are regularly used in refuge farming programs. Yet these harmful farming practices often interfere with the protection of the wildlife and the native grasses that the national refuge system is designed to protect. Scientists also warn that the use of GE crops can lead to increased pesticide use on refuges, negatively effecting birds, aquatic animals, and other wildlife. And a vast spectrum of recent scientific findings has implicated neonicotinoids in pollinator declines and ecosystem harm. A recent report from a sister agency to the FWS, the U.S. Geological Survey, found widespread contamination of neonicotinoids in surface waters throughout the Midwest.
“We are gratified that the Fish and Wildlife Service has finally concluded that industrial agriculture, with GE crops and powerful pesticides, is both bad for wildlife and inappropriate on refuge lands,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Since refuges have already demonstrated that they do not need these practices, we would urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to make the ban immediate, not wait until 2016, and to eliminate the loopholes in its new policy.”