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CFS Statement on the Trump administration's elimination of the National Wildlife Refuge prohibition on genetically engineered crops and neonicotinoid pesticides

August 06, 2018
Center for Food Safety

Center for Food Safety statement on the Trump administration's elimination of the National Wildlife Refuge prohibition on genetically engineered crops and neonicotinoid pesticides:

Washington, D.C. – Center for Food Safety (CFS) issued the following statement in response to U.S. National Fish & Wildlife Services (FWS) Deputy Director Gregory J Sheehan's Memorandum withdrawing FWS' ban on genetically engineered crops (GE or GMOs) and neonicotinoid (neonics) pesticides in wildlife refuges.

"We are outraged at the Trump administration's unlawful and irresponsible opening of National Wildlife Refuge lands to GMOs and neonicotinoids," said George Kimbrell, CFS Legal Director. "These are crucial wildlife sanctuaries, not to be sold to pad the bottom lines of pesticide companies. We are exploring all legal actions."

The previous 2014 decision by FWS to prohibit GMOs and neonic pesticides on wildlife refuges was a direct result of a 10 year CFS-led campaign, including multiple lawsuits successfully challenging the planting of GMOs at refuges around the country from 2005-2014. During that span CFS filed five lawsuits, two legal rulemaking petitions, and countless other administrative actions, with resulting judicial decisions concluding that the allowance of GE crops on national wildlife refuges violated environmental laws in multiple refuge regions across the country and prohibiting their continued use. For example, in 2012, a federal court formally halted the planting of GMOs on all National Wildlife Refuges in the Southeastern U.S. as well as ordered steps to mitigate environmental damage from their previous illegal cultivation. And in 2011, CFS forced a legal settlement, begun in 2006, ending GMO planting on refuges throughout the 12-state Northeast Region.

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. Neonicotinoid pesticides are highly toxic to pollinators and one of the leading causes of the current bee collapse.

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