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Lawsuit Filed Over GMO Crops In Nature Refuge

Date: 03-Mar-10
Country: US
Author: Carey Gillam

KANSAS CITY - Environmentalists filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Monday accusing the service of illegally allowing farmers to grow genetically modified crops in a national wildlife refuge.

The groups said up to 80 other national wildlife refuges across the United States are now growing genetically engineered crops and could be vulnerable to similar legal action.

Fish & Wildlife Service spokesman Joshua Winchell said the government agency had no comment.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Delaware by the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic on behalf of Delaware Audubon Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Center for Food Safety.

The groups want the court to force the Fish & Wildlife Service to remove genetically engineered crops from the National Wildlife Refuge at Bombay Hook in Delaware, alleging the crops are a result of illegal cooperative farming agreements.

The groups said the service has allowed hundreds of acres to be plowed over without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act .

In March 2009, the same groups won a similar lawsuit against plantings of genetically modified crops within the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

"These refuges are to be administered to benefit wildlife, not farmers," plaintiffs' attorney Christine Erickson said in a statement.

Erickson said Fish & Wildlife Service policy forbids genetically modified agricultural crops in refuge management unless it is determined they are essential to accomplish refuge purposes.

The suit seeks to enjoin any cultivation of genetically engineered crops on Bombay Hook until environmental assessments are completed as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

(Editing by Rebekah Kebede)

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