The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) alleging that the agency has routinely failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records related to genetically engineered (GE) crops. Ctr. for Food Safety v. Animal & Plant Health Inspection Serv., No. 15-1377 (D.C., filed August 25, 2015).
CFS asserts that APHIS has unlawfully delayed its responses to at least 29 FOIA requests or appeals related to its decision to withdraw proposed regulations that would update existing management of GE crops. “APHIS has a track record of irresponsible and inadequate regulation of GE crops,” CFS Staff Attorney Cristina Stella said in an August 25, 2015, press release. “In the absence of thorough government oversight, public access to information about these crops becomes all the more critical. 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 the complaint, CFS requests that the court declare APHIS’ FOIA request handling as unlawful, direct the organization to produce the records it requested and prohibit the agency from continuing its “pattern or practice of failing to timely respond to Plaintiff’s FOIA requests.”