Why are GMO crops being planted in Wildlife Refuges?
The good news: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service settled a lawsuit by agreeing to stop allowing Genetically Modified (GMO) crops to be grown in National Wildlife Refuges. This only applies to Refuges in the Northeast, but it’s a start.
The bad news – what the heck is going on here? Why on Earth are GMO crops being grown on National Wildlife Refuges?
In theory a Wildlife Refuge is just that: A protected plot of land that is left wild so it can be used by, you know, wildlife.
But that’s not good enough for some folks. It’s not really land stewardship unless someone is making some money, and migrating snow geese just can’t pay up.
So the Fish and Wildlife Service has been leasing out land for farming. Theoretically, it doesn’t interfere with the whole wildlife thing. Not too much, anyway.
Planting seeds of destruction
According to the Center for Food Safety, as many as 75 Wildlife Refuges are currently hosting GMOs.
Here’s how it went down, as reported on their True Food Network:
- National wildlife refuges have allowed farming for decades but in recent years refuge farming has been converted to [GMO]crops because that is only seed farmers can obtain. Today, the vast majority of crops grown on refuges are genetically engineered…
- In August 2009, several environmental groups led by the Center for Food Safety and PEER wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar… asking him to “issue a moratorium on all [GMO] crop cultivation in National Wildlife Refuges”. But Secretary Salazar never responded to the letter…
- The lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Delaware… charged that the Fish & Wildlife Service had illegally entered into Cooperative Farming Agreements with private parties, allowing hundreds of acres on its Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware to be plowed over without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
- In settling the suit, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service promised to revoke any authorization for further [GMO] agriculture at Bombay Hook and the four other [Northeast District] refuges with [GMO] crops…
- Because the federal government would not agree to end illegal [GMO] agriculture in refuges nationally, new litigation is being prepared in other regions…
What’s the big deal?
These lands are explicitly reserved for wildlife. Farming shouldn’t be allowed there at all; but if you must lease out refuge lands, it should only be for the most conscious and least toxic farming. GMOs (which are mostly designed for herbicide and pesticide use) don’t really fall into that category.
Not only that, but it’s illegal.
“Planting genetically engineered crops on wildlife refuges is resource management malpractice,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that Fish & Wildlife Service policy explicitly forbids “genetically modified agricultural crops in refuge management unless [they] determine their use is essential to accomplishing refuge purpose(s).” “GE crops serve no legitimate refuge purpose, thus refuge officials must resort to outright fictions to claim these crops benefit wildlife.”
More on GMOs:
- End of Organics? Monsanto’s GMO Alfalfa Approved
- The Trouble with Monsanto and GMO – David Suzuki spells it out
- Stonyfield Farm Takes a Swing at Monsanto (And the OCA)
- Too Much of a Bad Thing: Monsanto Did NOT Buy Blackwater
- Be Nice to Monsanto; They’re having a Bad Year
- Beef is the Worst: Why Put Oil On Your Barbecue?
(Snow Geese at Bombay Hook picture Some rights reserved by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region)