USDA APHIS extends comment period for GMO rule changes

USDA APHIS extends comment period for GMO rule changes

Public may comment on the proposed changes to regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of GE organisms through April 21. Agricultural groups had asked for a 60-day extension to May 6.

Updated with change in deadline for comments.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is requesting comments through April 21 on potential changes to regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of certain genetically engineered organisms.

Several commodity groups had asked for a 60-day extension, including the National Sorghum Producers in a letter dated Feb. 18.

USDA APHIS proposes changes to rules governing GE organisms. (Photo: Vlad Teodor/Thinkstock)

"We respectfully submit that a lengthier comment period is needed to allow for adequate public input on the wide-ranging issues described in the February 5 notice, particularly given that the options presented in the NOI include ones that are significantly more complex and a much greater departure from current regulations than the revisions proposed for these same regulations in 2008," the letter reads.

APHIS is considering the changes based upon their 28 years of experience in regulating genetically engineered organisms, advances in biotechnology and new issues raised by stakeholders. The agency says the update will increase efficiency and precision of their regulations.

“Changes to the regulations would ensure that the agency can continue to effectively regulate the products of biotechnology that may pose plant pest or noxious weed risks to U.S. agriculture and the environment,” according to the notice in the Federal Register.

APHIS is preparing an environmental impact statement in conjunction with the proposed revisions to the biotechnology regulations.

Preliminary items for evaluation in the EIS include:

-Potential impacts on U.S. agriculture and forestry production.

-Potential impacts on current and potential future uses of biotechnology in agriculture and forestry.

-Agronomic practices in biotech crop production that may have environmental consequences.

-Potential impacts on consumer health and agricultural worker safety.

Public comment is requested to identify other potential issues to be examined in the EIS.

APHIS has four proposed alternatives to examine in the EIS regarding biotech regulations.

1.Take no action. APHIS makes no changes to current regulations for regulating certain genetically engineered organisms.

2.Revise regulations to analyze potential plant pest or noxious weed risks first and then regulate “only when appropriate and necessary.”

3.Revise regulations to increase oversight and resources used to regulate genetically engineered organisms.

4.Withdraw current regulations and make developers responsible for ensuring that their biotech products do not pose risks as plant pests or noxious weeds and “that their activities related to the importation, interstate movement or release into the environment of their respective products of biotechnology are not in violation of any existing statues or federal regulations that relate to plant pests or noxious weeds.”

There are two ways to submit comments:

-Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2014-0054.

-Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comments to Docket No. APHIS-2014-0054, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Source: Federal Register

Related article:

AgProfessional – USDA asking for comments on biotechnology regulations – The ag industry in general seems supportive of APHIS looking for ways to streamline the approval process.

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