Feeding GMOs to Wildlife and Spraying Bee-Killing Pesticides at National Refuges: Is the End Near?

This post was written by Nicole DAlessandro, and originally appeared on EcoWatch.

For nearly 10 years, two nonprofits filed lawsuits, legal petitions and countless administrative actions to stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in its tracks.

The issue that Center for Food Safety and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) took with the FWS? The regular use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in national refuge farming programs—which ultimately interfere with the very plants and animals the refuge system is designed to protect.

Yesterday, the FWS announced in an internal memorandum that the agency will ban neonic pesticides and phase out GE feed for wildlife by January 2016.

“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.”

National Wildlife Refuge System Chief James Kurth acknowledged in the memorandum that the agency has demonstrated its 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.” However, the temporary use of GE crops will be considered on a case-by-case basis for habitat restoration purposes.

Kurth also wrote that the FWS will follow a directive to use long-standing integrated pest management principles to evaluate and guide the agency’s pesticide use practices.

“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.”

The Center for Biological DiversityBeyond Pesticides and Sierra Club have also been involved in petitions and litigation leading up to the FWS’s policy reversal.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 months ago

thanks for the article.

Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Kyle N.
Kyle N.2 years ago

soybean aphid resistant soybeans.. a late night typo.

Kyle N.
Kyle N.2 years ago

Once we have soybean resistant soybeans, that will eliminate the need to spray an insecticide to kill the aphids, which also takes all other insects with it. Only then can we save the Monarch. Thank CHINA for delivering the soybean aphid here!!!! They are the root cause of the harm to the monarch, bee's. We have no other solution but to have the resistant varieties in the very near future.

Kyle N.
Kyle N.2 years ago

Mark, you have no clue how things work, I do. I know how the Monarch can be saved, but it must start with soybeans with resistance to the soybean aphid. Currently having a major infestation of the aphids now (200 to 1,000 per plant), forcing nearly all soybean acres to be sprayed with an insecticide or risk losing the crop. The aphid got into the US in a shipment from China, the aphid lays it's eggs on buckthorn. so, if anybody has buckthorn, REMOVE IT!! Roundup is not even in the picture when it comes to harming the Monarch or it's food source. Milkweed grows in ditches, pastures, crp lands as well as many meadows. It has never taken hold in any field, so there is no loss of it. The loss of over 10 million acres of CRP does bother me though, all due to cuts in the farm program. Cities are also to blame since they always worry about the mosquito and want it killed.. well, they also kill the monarch. Within 5 years, we should have a aphid resistant soybean, upon which time we can hopefully eliminate the need to spray for the aphids.

Vicky P.
Vicky P.2 years ago


Dale O.

It is good to see that this will be coming to an end in 2016, although it should cease in 2014. This is something that should never have been started in the first place, it was certainly no favour to either Nature or the environment.

Lisa Millar
Past Member 2 years ago


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Poor planet... And future generations, I pitty you.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner2 years ago

Ironic that Kyle has a picture of a butterfly as his logo, since GMO and the lethal pesticides he's peddling are precisely the poisons that are wiping out butterflies, bees and birds and all pollinators needed for plant variety.. and I'm suspecting he's only concerned about his personal profit, not about the future of the earth or even the future welfare of his own family.