National wildlife refuges phasing out GMO crops and some pesticides nationwide to help bees

National wildlife refuges around the country are phasing out genetically modified crops and a class of pesticides related to nicotine in programs meant to provide food for wildlife.

A letter in July from James W. Kurth, chief of the national refuge system, makes no specific mention of any concerns that the pesticides or the crops pose any risk to wildlife or pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

It just says they don't fit refuge objectives, such as promoting natural ecosystems.

But it comes after a July order to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides on wildlife refuges in the Northwest and Hawaii that mentioned concerns about harm to bees and after a White House memorandum directing federal agencies to promote pollinator health.

Conservation and food safety groups had also petitioned for the change.