Another concern for wildlife refuges involves crops genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate pesticide exposure. In 2012, Beyond Pesticides and other environmental groups, led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Center for Food Safety (CFS), won a court battle to halt genetically engineered crops and related herbicide-tolerant herbicides on wildlife refuges in the southeast. This led to a grassroots campaign and public pressure from advocates and environmental groups, resulting in FWS’s decision to adopt a national phase-out of GE crops and ban neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticide use on national wildlife refuges. However, in 2018, FWS reversed the prohibition via a memorandum, which allows the refuge system to make decisions on GE crop and pesticide use on a case-by-case basis. GE crops perpetuate the use of harmful pesticides as many of these crops are resistant to the pesticides used on them, forcing farmers to use more chemicals to treat persistent pest issues.
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