USDA SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR GENETICALLY ENGINEERED ALFALFA
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2009--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced the availability of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that evaluates the potential environmental effects of deregulating alfalfa genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup. This GE alfalfa is commonly referred to as Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa.
APHIS originally deregulated two lines of RR alfalfa (J101 and J163) in 2005. The agency prepared this draft EIS to comply with a February 2007 judgment and order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The court did not overturn APHIS’ 2005 conclusions regarding the safety of the RR alfalfa for food and feed purposes, but rather concluded that APHIS had not adequately documented potential, or lack of potential, environmental impacts.
APHIS is seeking public comment on the draft EIS and will consider all public comments submitted during the comment period before finalizing the EIS or making any decisions regarding the regulatory status of RR alfalfa. The comment period will be open for 60 days from the date of publication in the Dec. 18, 2009, Federal Register. Preliminarily, APHIS concluded that there is no significant impact on the human environment due to granting nonregulated status to RR alfalfa.
APHIS’ regulates the introduction (importation, interstate movement and environmental release) of GE organisms. APHIS has been safely regulating GE organisms since 1986 and to date has authorized more than 13,000 safe environmental releases (field tests) of GE plants and deregulated more than 75 GE plants.
The draft EIS is available on the APHIS Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov. Notice of this draft EIS is scheduled for publication in the Dec. 18, 2009, Federal Register.
Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Feb. 16, 2010. You may comment by either of the following methods:
Comments received are posted on the Regulations.gov Web site and can 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 and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link. To sign up to receive APHIS releases automatically, send an e-mail message to email@example.com and leave the subject blank. In the message, type