USF&WS seeks input on GMC issue

Published 9:33 pm Monday, June 3, 2013

Many people don’t know that crops are grown on some land at some national wildlife refuges. Some people who know about those crops don’t know that some of those crops have been genetically modified.

That issue is the focus of a public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near Columbia. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is seeking input from the public about that practice at national wildlife refuges in the southeast United States.

The Columbia meeting will be conducted at 205 S. Ludington Drive.

“These refuges use farming as a wildlife management tool to help meet refuge specific conservation objectives for waterfowl and other species,” reads a news release from USF&WS.

The release explains that genetically modified crops  — GMCs, GM crops or biotech crops — are plants that have had their DNA modified by using genetic-engineering techniques to improve growth and resist pests and other harmful agents. Such crops have been used since their deregulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in the mid-1990s. Since then, such crops have become a widespread feature of American agriculture, according to the release.

USF&WS encourages the public to review information about such crops or attend meetings scheduled through the Southeast during June. Comments will be considered and a determination will be made after addressing those comments and any new information that is accumulated during this environmental assessment. The 90-day comment period ends July 28.

As the result of litigation, USF&WS’s Southeast region stopped using GMCs at the end of the 2013 planting season. Because of that litigation, USF&WS is performing an additional an analysis to further study the effects upon the human environment of the use of GMC soybeans and corn grown on refuges in the region.

The scope of this analysis will apply to all refuges in the region that may utilize farming as a tool for wildlife-habitat management. Many of these refuges are concentrated along the major migratory waterfowl flyways of eastern coastal North Carolina, the Mississippi Valley and the Tennessee Valley.

“Each year, roughly 100 million ducks and geese head south mostly along the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways that rely on our refuges for wintering grounds and food,” said Cindy Dohner, the Southeast regional director, in the release. “These farming operations are an important part of our effort to meet conservation objectives in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan developed by the Service and our partners in Canada, Mexico, the states, as well as Non-Governmental-Organizations for healthy populations of migratory birds.”

For additional information and to submit comments for consideration in the scoping phase of the PEA please visit the website The website will be the online center for public information, updates, and involvement in the environmental assessment process.
Comments may also be sent by mail by
July 28 to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 400, Attention: NEPA Coordinator, Atlanta, Georgia 30345, and may also be sent via email to:

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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