Can agricultural practices and the environment--including endangered species--peacefully coexist? And if only one side "wins," who makes the decision and how? To analyze these and related issues, CAST convened a Task Force of regulatory and environmental experts to draft a new CAST Commentary, The Endangered Species Act: Interfacing with Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was enacted by Congress in 1973 for the purpose of protecting and recovering imperiled species and the ecosystems on which they depend. But significant polarity can occur in, and endure after, resolution of ESA-related disputes--especially as related to agricultural practices.  According to Task Force Chair Bernalyn McGaughey, Compliance Services International, Lakewood, Washington, “Legal and administrative modifications to the ESA have failed to remove the dissensions this law seems to evoke. In some instances, these differences arise because the public may not understand or appreciate fully the relationships between land uses and listed species, the rigor of regulatory programs such as the registration process for pesticides, or the implications of no management (e.g., proliferation of an invasive species if herbicides are not used)."

Using pertinent examples of conflicts, litigation, and delays resulting from lack of procedural clarity and coordination, this Commentary (1) introduces the intersections between the ESA and management of agricultural and natural ecosystems within the United States and (2) explores ways those intersections might be addressed not only to restore a process to protect critically imperiled species but also to establish process and rebuild lost trust among all affected parties.

“To move from polarized, nonscientifically based arguments, the interface between agricultural practices or natural resource use and the ESA needs to involve a simplified, coordinated, fully defined process that leads to implementation of transparent and sound science supported by strong stakeholder involvement," concludes CAST Executive Vice President/CEO John Bonner. "CAST is pleased to assist in bringing this issue forward."

Beginning October 19, 2009, the full text of CAST Commentary QTA2009-2, The Endangered Species Act: Interfacing with Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems--Available Online Only--will be available to view/download without charge by accessing the CAST website.

CAST also offers free online access to other publications and a list forthcoming titles.

CAST is an international consortium of 32 scientific and professional societies.  It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.