WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) – Environmental and food safety groups say the United U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allowing genetically engineered crops to be grown in Delaware’s Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge without the required environmental reviews.
The Delaware Audubon Society, the Center for Food Safety and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility say the Fish and Wildlife Service entered into cooperative farming agreements to allow private parties to farm hundreds of acres in the refuge without the review required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
Farming genetically engineered crops can have significant impact on the environment and its surrounding wildlife, the groups say in the federal complaint.
Because some genetically engineered crops are developed to withstand heavy use of herbicides, herbicide use is increased, to the cost of the surrounding ecosystem, the groups say.
Refuges, by definition, are meant to serve the plants and wildlife.
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),” according to the complaint. “GE crops serve no legitimate refuge purpose, and in fact impair the objectives for which the wildlife sanctuaries were originally established.”
One year ago, the same plaintiffs prevailed in an almost identical lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service and its governmental parent, the Department of the Interior, for making farming agreements that allowed genetically engineered plantings in the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. That refuge now is administratively part of Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge.
The groups want the government and the private farmers enjoined from growing genetically modified crops in the refuge unless and until they comply with NEPS. Their lead counsel is Kenneth Kristl with the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic of Wilmington.