In a now-familiar move, the Trump administration is rolling back an Obama-era ban on the planting of GMO crops on federal lands managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). As Reuters reports, this prohibition also included the use of neonicotinoid insecticides and applies to the federal wildlife refuge system, potentially impacting around 150 million acres nationwide.
The neonic ban on USFWS lands went into effect two years ago and resulted from a lawsuit by environmental groups concerned about damage to non-target species, particularly pollinators.
Grain crops are planted on many wildlife refuges to provide forage crops for migratory birds, including the ducks and geese that are prized by hunters. Which explains why carrying out “needed farming practices” is the reason cited for removing the neonic ban.
The memo withdrawing the 2014 ban was signed by the Principal Deputy Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Mr. Gregory Sheehan, a Trump administration appointee. It states that “a blanket denial of GMOs does not provide on-the-ground latitude for refuge managers,” and makes no mention of the environmental impacts of either GMOs or neonics.
Reuters, “Trump administration lifts ban on pesticides linked to declining bee numbers,” August 3, 2018.