Issue Date: August 11, 2014
Refuges To Phase Out Pesticides, Modified Crops
National wildlife refuges will phase out the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and genetically engineered crops on their lands by 2016, according to a recent memo from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). It comes after nearly a decade of pressure from advocacy groups, including the Center for Food Safety and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, to ban these pesticides and crops on wildlife refuges. “We have determined that prophylactic use, such as a seed treatment, of the neonicotinoid pesticides that can distribute systemically in a plant and can potentially affect a broad spectrum of nontarget species is not consistent with Service policy,” the memo states. Much of the concern about neonicotinoid pesticides stems from their association with honeybee losses. For the past two years, genetically engineered crops have not been used on wildlife refuges unless they were deemed essential. FWS will stop using such crops to feed wildlife by January 2016, according to the memo. The agency will consider the temporary use of such crops in habitat restoration, however, on a case-by-case basis.
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