FEATURED:

Food safety group sues USDA over requests for records

Food safety group sues USDA over requests for records
© Getty Images

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for allegedly failing to respond to the group’s requests for records on genetically engineered crops CFS says harm the environment.

ADVERTISEMENT

CFS said the agency has failed to provide timely final responses to at least 29 of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests or appeals. Of these, CFS said the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has entirely failed to provide a final response to 10 requests and two appeals. 

Under FOIA, agencies have 20 working days to respond to a request for records, according to the USDA’s Secretary for Civil Rights page about FOIA on the agency’s website.

"FOIA, however, does not require federal agencies to answer questions, render opinions, or provide subjective evaluations," the website states.

“APHIS has a track record of irresponsible and inadequate regulation of GE [genetically engineered] crops. In the absence of thorough government oversight, public access to information about these crops becomes all the more critical,” Cristina Stella, a CFS staff attorney, said in a news release. “This lawsuit is necessary to stop APHIS from continuing to ignore its duty to provide the public with information that affects farmers, communities, and the environment.”

In a statement to The Hill, APHIS said it is unable to comment on pending litigation.

The food safety group said genetically engineered crops can contaminate conventional or organic crops and have dramatically increased pesticide use in the U.S.  

This is the fourth time CFS said it’s had to sue the agency to get it to comply with the records law.

This story was updated at 2:53 p.m. to include a statement from APHIS.