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Center for Food Safety

CFS Victories and Accomplishments

For twenty years, CFS has been at the forefront of organizing a powerful food movement that is fighting the industrial model and promoting organic, ecological, and sustainable alternatives.
“The opposition had Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow on their side and the largest campaign budget in our county's history, but with the expertise and support from the Center for Food Safety our group of 150 family farmers beat the chemical corporations and won a precedent-setting win that will protect family farmers from genetically engineered crops for decades to come.”
— Elise Higley
Farmer and Director of the Our Family Farms Coalition in Jackson County, Oregon
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Center for Food Safety: Victories and Accomplishments

For the last twenty-five years, Center for Food Safety has been at the forefront of creating a new food future, organizing an increasingly powerful food movement that is fighting the industrial agriculture model and promoting organic, ecological, and regenerative alternatives. Here are some of the groundbreaking victories and accomplishments—protecting our food, our farmers, and our planet—that we have achieved, together!

CFS is preventing the mass approval of pesticide-promoting GMO crops and foods! Every day we're in Court fighting some of our earth's biggest polluters: Monsanto-Bayer, Dow Chemical, Dupont, and the federal agencies that give these polluters a green light. The pesticides we are legally challenging disproportionately harm the health of farmworkers and family farmers, and the long-term health of our environment. Children and families should not be exposed to unsafe and carcinogenic chemicals in our food. Our legal team is here to stop the use of dangerous pesticides that threaten our health and the health of our planet. Working together, we can stop the next generation of dangerous GMO crops!

VICTORY! In June 2020, CFS received a victorious court ruling in our case against Monsanto-Bayer, Dow, Dupont, and the Trump administration in a case challenging the approval of several dicamba pesticides used on cotton and soy genetically engineered to be immune to the pesticide. The Court ruled that the pesticides' 2018 approval was unlawful for failing to analyze the adverse impacts to other farmers and their crops from off-field dicamba drift, which has decimated them, damaging millions of acres. The Court immediately revoked the approval, meaning the pesticide can no longer be sold or used. The Court cited "enormous and unprecedented damage" caused by dicamba in the last few years. This is a huge victory for farmers and the environment!

New Lawsuit to Stop Glyphosate: In March 2020, CFS filed a major federal court challenge to EPA's recent decision to re-approve the toxic pesticide glyphosate (the main chemical used in Roundup). There is the mounting scientific evidence of glyphosate's hazards, including genetically engineered (GE) crops sprayed with glyphosate creating massive super weed problems and harming endangered species, and its human health hazards, including causing various cancers. CFS is representing front-line farmworkers who are disproportionately harmed by exposure to glyphosate. This critical case will continue in the coming year.

New Lawsuit Filed to Secure Strong Federal GMO Food Labeling: In August 2020, CFS filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against USDA challenging the GMO labeling regulations on a number of grounds, including discriminating against tens of millions of Americans. The regulations do not mandate on-package labeling, and instead allow for digital "QR" codes that must be scanned with a smartphone. In addition to the QR code issue, when on-package text is used, the regulations limit it to only using the term "bioengineered" or "BE." In reality, for 25 years, every aspect of the issue—science, policy, and marketplace—has used the term genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GMO). CFS's lawsuit also challenges USDA's severe restriction on which foods are covered and require disclosure. The vast majority of GE foods (by some estimates over 70%) are not whole foods, but highly processed foods with GE ingredients, like sodas and oils. Yet in the final rule, USDA excluded these "highly refined" products, unless the GE material was "detectable." A disclosure law that exempts 70% of the foods it is supposed to disclose is not a meaningful disclosure law: it is a fraud and allows producers to keep their GMO ingredients secret. The case seeks to have the Court declare USDA's regulations unlawful and nullify them, and then return the issue to USDA with orders to fix the unlawful portions of the GMO labeling rules. Americans deserve the same meaningful labeling of GMO foods enjoyed by more than 60 other countries. This lawsuit is designed to ensure that Americans have the right to know how their food is produced, and that it's a right that everyone deserves.

VICTORY! Court of Appeals Upholds Decision to Prohibit Offshore Aquaculture in Gulf of Mexico. In August 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held illegal the Department of Commerce's federal regulations that would have permitted, for the very first time, large-scale industrial aquaculture operations offshore in U.S. federal waters. The appellate court affirmed a 2018 federal district court decision throwing those regulations out. The Trump Administration appealed the lower court's ruling, and recently reiterated the Administration's commitment to developing commercial offshore aquaculture in federal waters. The 5th Circuit heard the case in January 2020. This is a landmark victory protecting our oceans and fishing communities. 

Lawsuit to Defend the "People's Environmental Law": CFS, along with a nationwide coalition of environmental justice, and conservation organizations, filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's attack on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under new regulations put forth by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, polluting projects of all kinds will be exempt from basic environmental reviews, and the public will be cut out of one of its best tools to prevent and analyze dangerous, shortsighted projects. The Trump administration's unprecedented attempt to gut NEPA is unlawful and irresponsible, which is why we decided to take legal action to protect our front-line communities and the environment.

Promoting Regenerative Solutions to the Climate and Industrialized Food Crisis: In July 2020, we launched Season 2 of our video series Regenerating Paradise. Hawaii's food system is in the midst of an economic and cultural renaissance. Led by small-scale producers, local composting initiatives, and statewide farm-to-school and cafeteria pilot programs; consumers and producers are working together to transform the Islands' agricultural landscape. With all these groundbreaking initiatives in Hawaii, we are showing the rest of the country how circular, regenerative, and local food systems can simultaneously support the economy, strengthen cultural heritage, and improve the overall health of a community.


In addition to these recent victories and accomplishments, here are 17 other groundbreaking victories and accomplishments we achieved together in 2019:

1. The CFS legal team is on the frontlines of stopping GE salmon from making its way to store shelvesWe have an active lawsuit right now against the largest GE salmon company—but it doesn't stop there! Salmon was first, but at least 35 other genetically modified animal species are currently being developed. If we don't win, it's just the start of a domino effect that could be the end of our natural, wild fisheries. That's why we're challenging every aspect of the FDA approval, including their failure to evaluate the environmental impacts of GMO fish.

2. CFS is saving the bees! Our legal team scored a groundbreaking legal victory when a federal court concluded that the EPA approval of dozens neonicotinoid pesticides was illegal. As a result of our lawsuit, a dozen of these bee-killing pesticides were taken off the market in 2019! EPA has also agreed to assess neonic impacts on other endangered pollinators and species by specific deadlines. Both of these announcements are the first time in U.S. history such steps have been required for addressing the impacts of neonic pesticides on pollinators. To complement this legal work, CFS created the Wild Bee ID website and phone app to help you identify bees in your own backyard and cultivate your own bee-friendly garden.

3. CFS is protecting our food! Our legal team won a huge lawsuit that will force the FDA to identify and better protect us from the most high-risk foods! No more waiting in the dark for weeks or months when there's a foodborne illness outbreak, not knowing what's safe to feed your family. Now it'll be much easier to find the source of outbreaks and act fast to stop them!

4. CFS is protecting our waters and fishers. We're one of the only organizations fighting industrial aquaculture facilities, or the so-called "factory farms of the ocean." CFS won a major lawsuit protecting our oceans from massive contamination, as a federal court declared that raising fish in aquaculture facilities using toxic chemicals is illegal.

5. CFS is saving our children's brains! In a victory for our children, we wrote, lobbied, and passed a bill that banned the brain-damaging pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in Hawaii and also secured similar bans in California and New York. We're working hard to replicate these wins in other states as well as working with Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz to pass a bill at the federal level!

CFS is stopping atrocities committed by factory farms:

6. CFS and allies recently barred Iowa, North Carolina, and Kansas from enforcing controversial new "ag-gag" laws which would have criminalized investigations at factory farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills! The state is prevented from enforcing its new ag-gag law while the lawsuit proceeds. CFS has historically defeated numerous laws designed to squash investigations at factory farms—these are victories for all those who support humane treatment of farm animals and safe food!

7. CFS and allies shut down a mega-CAFO dairy and stopped it from polluting local waterways and the environment with animal discharge in Hawaii! CFS and Hawaii community group Kupale Ookala sued Big Island Dairy, LLC, a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) located on Hawaii's Big Island. This year's settlement resulted in the closure of the offending dairy, and settlement funds for impacted communities, which is a huge win for the local groups and the environment.

8. We had a huge success with our national petition against Tillamook Creamery. The beloved Oregon company markets their products as sustainable and humane, but actually sources milk from polluting factory farms. We got 50,000 people to agree that they should #BeTheTruth and support local family farms instead. We also launched EndIndustrialMeat.org, a groundbreaking "go-to" resource on the impacts of industrial animal agriculture and alternatives to the system.

CFS is protecting water and pollinators in California:

9. CFS defeated the proposed Cadiz water project in court, a 43-mile-long pipeline through California's Mojave Trails National Monument. A favorite of the Trump Administration, this project was a for-profit privatization scam that would severely degrade Los Angeles' water supply and take water from an essential desert ecosystem.

10. CFS and allied organizations successfully stopped the $17 billion Twin Tunnels water project. The project would have been one of the largest corporate water giveaways in California history, transferring water and control of the Delta ecosystem to some of California's most powerful and wasteful agricultural giants.

11. CFS is protecting bumblebees by filing a petition asking the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to list four species of bumblebees as endangered and eligible to receive protection under California's Endangered Species Act. This year, the Department responded to our petition and is now in the formal process of exploring protecting the four bumblebee species—we are on our way toward listing bees and insects as endangered for the first time in the State!

CFS helped protect the waters and wildlife of Washington State:

12. CFS won a case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop polluting commercial shellfish aquaculture operations in Washington State, a huge win for the environment and iconic species like salmon and orcas.

13. CFS stopped the shellfish industry from spraying oyster beds with a dangerous neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, protecting Washington's Willapa Bay from the use of this neurotoxin in the water.

CFS is protecting our precious land in Hawaii from pesticide conglomerates!

14. CFS worked with many organizations to secure the Board of Education's statewide policy banning herbicide use on all public school campuses in Hawaii.

15. CFS, in tandem with a robust coalition, protected Hawaii's public trust resources with an unprecedented defeat of a special interest "water theft bill."

16. CFS and allied organizations co-hosted a four-island speaking tour with historic Monsanto plaintiff Dewayne "Lee" Johnson in anticipation of upcoming Hawaii County-level herbicide ban.

17. CFS is highlighting the local food heroes who are feeding Hawaii during COVID-19. Check out our photo and interview project, "Feeding Hawaii," to read the stories from the frontlines of Hawaii's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

All of this wouldn't be possible without the day-to-day support of our administrative team, our interns, our science team, and our donors!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making all this progress and many victories possible in 2019 and 2020! Onward!


The Victory Report below outlines many of our major legal, policy, and grassroots successes in halting the spread of the genetic engineering of our foods, stopping the use and misuse of pesticides, protecting our pollinators and seed diversity, defending farmers and farm communities from corporate takeover and persecution, halting the unspeakable cruelty of animal factories, and addressing industrial agriculture's contribution to the climate crisis.

Read our Victories Report (Download here)

You can also download the PDF report here