The Trump administration has reversed an Obama administration ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and genetically modified crops on national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted, threatening pollinators like bees and butterflies along with a suite of other wildlife species that depend on healthy, natural refuge habitats.
This abrupt change in policy, announced via a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) internal memorandum, revokes the agency’s 2014 policy prohibiting the use of toxic “neonic” insecticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on refuges. The 2014 ban was promulgated in response to a series of lawsuits challenging the use of genetically modified seed and broad-scale application of toxic pesticides on refuges for violating environmental laws.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“Industrial agriculture has no place on public lands dedicated to conservation of biological diversity and the protection of our most vulnerable species, including pollinators like bumble bees and monarch butterflies.