Policy change

Friends of the Earth advocates for regulators and elected officials to prioritize people and our planet over polluters, works to limit and eventually end the destructive practices of industrial agriculture, fights for a fair and democratic food system and advances organic and agroecological farming. We aim to make it possible for all people to enjoy a healthy and abundant food system, and we work to ensure the safe and precautionary management of chemicals and emerging technologies.

Bee action

Animal agriculture

Genetic engineering


Bee action

  • Pollinator Recovery ActFriends of the Earth stands behind the federal Pollinator Recovery Act of 2016 [link to bill] introduced by Sen.Merkley (OR). This bill will increase pollinator-friendly, regionally appropriate habitat that reduces the application of pollinator-toxic insecticides and herbicides. It also offers financial incentives to farmers who avoid using certain pesticides.
  • Restriction of bee-toxic pesticides at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Working with allies in cities and states across the country, we succeeded in urging the EPA to restrict new uses of bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides in agriculture. We continue to push for restriction and elimination of pollinator-harming pesticides, including neonicotinoids and glyphosate.
  • Keep Hives Alive Tour: This summer, we worked with allies to organize an eight city cross-country tour to highlight the clear science and real solutions to the bee crisis. During the tour we delivered more than 2.6 million dead bees to the headquarters of chemical giant and neonic peddler Bayer, demanding restrictions on neonics to Keep the Hives Alive! At the final tour stop, Friends of the Earth and our allies delivered nearly 5 million signatures to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demanding immediate action to restrict pollinator-toxic pesticides.
  • State leadership to protect pollinators: Friends of the Earth and our allies helped to pass landmark pollinator protection bills in Maryland, Connecticut and Minnesota! We also advanced resolutions and bills in California, Massachusetts and Vermont.
  • Local and Institutional policy for pollinators: Friends of the Earth supports passage of local and institutional policies that protect pollinators. In recent years, many municipalities, schools, universities and hospitals have passed policies to eliminate pesticides that are toxic to pollinators and to plant pollinator-friendly habitat, including Emory University; Southern Oregon University; Portland, OR; Spokane, WA; Great Barrington, MA and Montgomery County, MD.

Animal agriculture

  • Animal welfare and the organic standard: This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a long-awaited set of animal welfare standards that would improve the lives of millions of animals and uphold the integrity of the organic label. Friends of the Earth joined with allies and over 120,000 individuals to submit a joint comment to the USDA supporting the new rule. When the factory farming industry and their friends in Congress tried to block the standards from being implemented, more than 30,000 Friends of the Earth supporters spoke out. We will keep fighting to get these stronger animal welfare standards on organic farms enacted!
  • U.S. Dietary Guidelines: In 2015, Friends of the Earth led a campaign to support the inclusion of sustainability in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a shift that would be felt in school lunch and other federally-funded nutrition programs and cafeterias across the country, and across our entire food system, as more people consider the environment in their dietary choices. With our allies, we changed the national conversation and inspired an outpouring of public support. We made it clear that healthy food means creating a sustainable food system that can feed future generations and that consuming less meat and more plant-based foods is critically important for the health of people and the planet.
  • Federal Food Service Guidelines: When you think of the U.S. government, food buying is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But government agencies purchase millions of dollars worth of food each year for hundreds of food service operations, from cafeterias in government buildings to food served on military bases in the U.S. and around the world. Friends of the Earth weighed in on the Federal Food Service Guidelines for Health and Sustainability to help direct taxpayer dollars toward creating a healthier food system. We submitted extensive comments that made the case for less meat consumption, more plant-based options, smaller portion sizes and the importance of good metrics to measure progress. The final guidelines have not yet been released.
  • Good Food Purchasing Program: The Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) uses the power of large-scale food buyers to create a transparent and equitable food system that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the environment. Friends of the Earth is collaborating with the GFPP to develop metrics, tools and systems for evaluating the climate and water conservation benefits of meat and dairy reductions in the menus of institutions like school districts and universities.

Genetic engineering

  • Federal regulation of GMOs: Friends of the Earth is pushing  federal agencies and Congress to ensure GMOs and next generation GMOS 2.0 (synthetic biology) are properly assessed for their impacts on human health and the environment, regulated and labeled for consumer right to know.
  • Oxitec’s GMO mosquito: Friends of the Earth is working to prevent the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes and other insects into the environment until proper oversight is established and assessments have been conducted to ensure these genetically engineered insects don’t harm humans or our ecosystems.