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Environment: Judge orders U.S. Fish and Wildlife to find and eradicate genetically engineered plants in wildlife refuges

Battle over genetically engineered crops continues

Use of genetically engineered crops is widespread, but a judge blocks their use in wildlife refuges in the southeastern U.S.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — National Wildlife Refuge managers in the Southeast will have a tough job ahead, as a federal judge has ordered the agency not only to halt the planting of genetically engineered crops, but to eradicate those that have already been planted, as well as any stray plants that might escape.

The ruling is in response to a lawsuit by environmental and watchdog groups aimed at halting the use of genetically engineered crops in wildlife refuges. After finding in October that prior approval of GE crop planting violated environmental laws, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg directed the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to halt planting of GE crops under any of its cooperative-farming agreements throughout the ten-state Southeast Region. Continue reading

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Court to determine whether U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must mitigate impacts of genetically modified crops

Environmental groups hail latest opinion as victory in fight against GM crops on protected lands

Migrating waterfowl rely on stopovers at wildlife refuges, where the use of genetically modified feed crops has been controversial. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A Federal court this week set the stage for resolving a long-running conflict over the use of genetically engineered crops of 44,000 acres of land in the national wildlife refuge system administered by the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg said that, even though the region has already agreed to stop planting GM crops, there may be ongoing effects. The judge set a hearing date of Nov. 5 to determine an appropriate remedy and urged the parties to meet before then to try and reach at least partial agreement.

At issue is the fact that the USFWS started using GM crops without doing an in-depth environmental study Instead, the agency relied on environmental studies done by a U.S. Department of Agriculture agency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, according to Tom MacKenzie, spokesman for the southeast region of the USFWS. Continue reading

Watchdog and public health groups challenge the use of genetically engineered crops in National Wildlife Refuges

Environmental groups say the planting of genetically engineered crops puts the biological integrity of national wildlife refuges at risk. PHOTO COURTESY USFWS.

Lawsuit claims USFWS violated environmental laws by approving use of GE crops

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Environmental and watchdog groups have joined forces in a legal battle to end the cultivation of genetically engineered crops on fifty-four national wildlife refuges across the Midwest. The lawsuit — filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the Center for Food Safety, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and Beyond Pesticides is the latest in a series of successful actions by public interest groups to stop planting of GE crops on wildlife refuges.

The groups are claiming that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service violated federal environmental laws by entered into cooperative farming agreements and approved planting of GE crops in eight Midwestern states, without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act  and in violation of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act and FWS’s own policy. Continue reading

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