Mar 11 2010

Clinic Files Suit to Stop Farming GMOs in National Wildlife Refuge

Published by at 1:50 pm under Environmental Policy

Widener’s Environmental and Natural Law Resources Clinic has again taken on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allowing private parties to engage in commercial farming in National Wildlife Refuges. On March 1, 2010, it filed suit in the U.S. Dstrict Court for the District of Delaware on behalf of clients Delaware Audubon Society, Center for Food Safety, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, against the US Department of the Interior DOI) and its Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) over farming at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The suit alleges that the Defendants violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA)-as well as the internal policies of DOI and FWS on the use of GE crops–by allowing the planting of more than 800 acres of genetically engineered (GE) crops without first preparing an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement as required by NEPA. The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent farming with GE crops until the required environmental analyses are done.

The suit follows up on the Clinic’s precedent-setting victory in March 2009 concerning farming on the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. Delaware Audubon et al. v. Secretary of U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 612 F.Supp.2d 442 (D. Del. 2009).

Based on information obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, as many as 80 national wildlife refuges across the country allow the farming of GE crops within the refuge, meaning that Prime Hook and Bombay Hook may simply be the start of a wave of challenges to the practice across the country.

To find out more about the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, go to and click on the Environmental Law Clinic tab. Questions about the lawsuit can be directed to Clinic Director Ken Kristl,

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