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Rachel Iadicicco (301) 734-3255
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623


WASHINGTON May 15, 2006–The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment on a petition to deregulate a plum genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to plum pox. The plum has been regulated under permit since September 1995.

The petition, submitted by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is in accordance with APHIS’ regulations concerning the introduction of GE organisms and products. APHIS has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) to determine whether deregulating the plum could have a significant impact on the environment. Based on the scientific evidence presented by ARS, APHIS’ current preferred alternative is to deregulate the plum.

ARS and APHIS are separate agencies of USDA. ARS is the research arm and works to find solutions to agricultural problems. ARS is required to follow the same procedures as other developers of GE products. APHIS is responsible for protecting U.S. agriculture and the environment from animal and plant pests and diseases. APHIS regulates GE products in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration.

APHIS makes a determination of nonregulated status only when it can conclude that the organism does not pose a plant pest risk. If APHIS grants ARS’ petition for deregulation, the plum and its progeny would no longer be regulated articles. The product could then be freely moved and planted without the requirement of permits or other regulatory oversight by APHIS. In addition to APHIS review, ARS is consulting FDA on the food safety of this GE plum variety.

APHIS has been safely regulating GE organisms since 1986 and has overseen the deregulation of more than 70 products.

APHIS is seeking comment on the petition as required by its regulations. APHIS also invites comments on the EA.

Notice of this action is scheduled for publication in May 16 Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before July 17. Send an original and three copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0084, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. If you wish to submit a comment using the Internet, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov and, in the “Search Regulations and Federal Actions” box, select “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service” from the agency drop-down menu; then click on “Submit.” In the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2006-0084 to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.

Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov Web site and may also be viewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.


Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet. Go to the APHIS news release page at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/newsroom. Also, anyone with an e-mail address can sign up to receive APHIS press releases automatically. Send an e-mail message to lyris@mdrdlyriss10.aphis.usda.gov and leave the subject blank. In the message, type subscribe press_releases.



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