Meetings Focus on Genetically Modified Crops | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Meetings Focus on Genetically Modified Crops

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — Meetings planned in four states will ask people what they think about using genetically modified crops on refuges to provide food for migrating waterfowl.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been taking public comment since April for an environmental analysis required under a ruling in a lawsuit by three environmental groups. The groups contend biotech crops encourage overuse of herbicides and the growth of herbicide-resistant weeds, hurt beneficial insects and change soil ecology.

Farmers harvest part of the crops grown on refuges. A ruling last year noted that herbicide-resistant plants made up 92 percent of the nation's soybean acreage and 80 percent of the corn acreage in 2008.

The meetings are Monday at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Ala., Tuesday at the Dyersburg Activity Center in Dyersburg, Tenn., Wednesday at the Natchez Convention Center in Mississippi and Thursday at the Best Western hotel in Alexandria, La.

The 90-day comment period ends on July 28.

Until this year, the agency let farmers use seeds modified for resistance to the herbicide in Roundup or to include insect-killing bacteria.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington has ordered three years of checks to remove and destroy genetically modified seedlings at every Southeast refuge where biotech crops have been planted.

Those include four in Alabama, one in a refuge that crosses the Alabama-Georgia state line, eight in Arkansas, 11 in Louisiana, 10 in Mississippi, six in Tennessee, one in Kentucky and one that crosses the Kentucky-Tennessee line; four in North Carolina and one in South Carolina.

The environmental analysis is needed before the agency decides whether farmers may resume using genetically modified crops.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Support our reporting -- Follow the MFP.