USDA Announces Availability Of Biotechnology Regulatory Petitions

Under an improved regulatory process announced by APHIS in November 2011, the Agency is providing the opportunity for earlier input from the public on petitions for deregulation of genetically-engineered (GE) plants. The Agency is also committing to working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate its review of GE products engineered for tolerance to multiple herbicides [link to USDA statement]. USDA and EPA will work together to ensure that the best available information is used as part of the reviews, carefully considering the potential human health, plant health, environmental, and other relevant impacts, and that each Agency reaches conclusions that are consistent with and fulfill their responsibilities and statutory mandates.

APHIS is opening sixty (60) day public comment periods on petitions for nonregulated status and draft evaluations and will closely consider all comments on relevant impacts including the proposed nature and extent of environmental reviews. APHIS will publish notice of these actions in an upcoming issue of the Federal Register and the public comment period will close 60 days following the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Previously, APHIS made developers’ petitions for nonregulated status available at the same time the Agency published its draft plant pest risk assessments and draft environmental assessments for new GE products. Under the improved review process, at the outset, the public can help APHIS identify any potential environmental and interrelated economic issues and impacts for its subsequent evaluation of the petitions. The public will then have another opportunity to review and comment on APHIS’ draft plant pest risk assessments and draft environmental assessments before APHIS prepares its final assessments and regulatory determinations.

The petitions can be viewed here.

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