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USDA REQUESTS INFORMATION ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED ANIMALS

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Karen Eggert (301) 734-0603
Angela Harless (202) 720-4623

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2008--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today began seeking information from the public and industry about whether additional consideration is needed when genetically engineered (GE) animals are imported or moved across the country.

“Genetic engineering technology is expanding and evolving at an incredible rate,” said Cindy Smith, APHIS administrator. “We want to ensure that APHIS has not only sought the public's thinking but also all available information as we consider the potential effects of GE animals on the U.S. livestock population and what our role should be in overseeing this developing industry.”

APHIS is requesting information on research conducted or planned on GE animals as well as the importation and movement of GE animals amid the U.S. livestock population. APHIS is also seeking input on actions and approaches that should be considered under the Animal Health Protection Act that would complement draft guidance issued today for public comment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA's draft guidance covers its requirements and recommendations for developers of GE animals.

The request for information is intended to gather public comment and information on GE animals for the agency to consider before determining any official guidance or policy.

“This is an excellent opportunity to hear directly from the public and industry,” said Smith. “We will thoroughly review the feedback we receive and will work closely with FDA to include a clear picture of how people, animals and the environment will remain protected.”

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

The request for information is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 19 Federal Register.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Nov. 18. Send two copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0188, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Comments also can be submitted on the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2006-0188.

Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov Web site and also can be reviewed 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.

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